Veon has completed the “single largest private forestry transaction in Irish history”, a spokesperson for the company has confirmed.

The deal was closed on behalf of 12,400 retail forestry investors in the Irish Forestry Funds who are set to receive a “summer bonanza” at the end of July, according to the firm.

The UK’s largest commercial forestry manager Gresham House Asset Management (GHAM) was appointed as the exclusive asset manager to the 4,074ha (10,067ac) portfolio of mature Irish forests on a long-term contract in the deal.

The portfolio, which is historically very large by UK and Irish standards, is divided across 185 estates across Ireland.

Comprising one of Europe’s fastest growing wood types and the main and most valuable commercial conifer species in Ireland and the UK, it benefits from good local infrastructure and close proximity to a number of saw mills.

The appointment of GHAM follows the acquisition of the portfolio of mature Irish forests by AXA IM – Real Assets, acting on behalf of clients, for an undisclosed sum, from Veon which is being retained to provide forestry management services.

Commenting on the new mandate, GHAM’s managing director of forestry, Olly Hughes, said: “We are thrilled to have brought this landmark transaction together and to support AXA IM – Real Assets’ efforts to offer investors long-term sustainable investments.

“Environmental, social and governance concerns are becoming increasingly important for investors.

“We believe Gresham House Forestry will be well positioned to meet the increasing demand from investors not only in the UK and Ireland but also across Europe more generally.”

Richard Hoare, chairman of Veon, also spoke, stating: “We are pleased to have realised this important transaction for the Irish Forestry Funds and to continue our involvement in their long-term stewardship.

This is a very positive development for our shareholders, with the portfolio’s value and returns serving as a strong endorsement of the Irish forestry and timber sector.

“We look forward to playing our part in continuing to grow the national forest estate and helping further develop the forest industry which is of critical importance in combatting the effects pf climate change.”