An investment fund (Phemus Corporation) registered at the same address as Harvard Management Company, an entity part of the prestigious US university Harvard that manages 27bn dollars' worth of assets, is the majority shareholder in the biggest forest owner in Romania, Scolopax SRL of Focşani.
Scolopax leads in the ranking of the largest forest owners in Romania as of April 1, 2010, besides the state that manages through Romsilva, according to the data sent by the Environment Ministry at ZF's request.
Sven Rutgersson, the CEO of Scolopax, confirmed that a Harvard University fund is behind Phemus Corporation, without specifying its name.
"We own around 35,000 hectares of forest and 2,000 hectares of farming land," Rutgersson added. He also specified that purchases started in 2005 and are likely to continue "depending on Romania's development".
The average price per hectare stands at 3,000 euros, so that the 35,000 held hectares could be valued at over 100m euros.
The market held information about Americans' interest in buying forests in Romania as far back as 2009, the year when foreigners were the most dynamic, but at that time there were no official data connecting an entity in Romania to the US university.
According to the Trade Registry data, Scolopax is 99.99% held by Phemus Corporation, a company registered in Boston, Massachusetts, at the same address as Harvard Management Company (HMC). The name of Ernst Jonas Einar Jakobsson, of Swedish origin, is also mentioned as a shareholder owning a tiny stake.
Romania's forestry fund stands at 6.5 million hectares, with the state's public property standing at 3.3 million hectares, managed by Romsilva. Romsilva also manages over 1 million hectares of private property.