Carter Holt Harvey, owned by New Zealand's richest man Graeme Hart, has received Overseas Investment Office (OIO) consent to sell more than 17,000 hectares of Central North Island forestry blocks to a United States led group for an undisclosed sum.

In its decision granting consent for the deal to go ahead, the OIO said the applicant - Te Waihou Plantations Ltd - plans to nurture, enhance and develop the forestry estate as a sustainable high performing business.

Te Waihou's ownership is splintered between 10 countries led by 34.8 per cent ownership from the US, 22.1 per cent from Saudi Arabia, 12.4 per cent from Denmark and 12.4 per cent from Liechtenstein.

The OIO says as the existing trees are harvested under forestry rights held by a third party, the land will be returned progressively to Te Waihou.

It will replant the land with trees in demand from Hart's Kinleith pulp and paper mill and other customers.

"The overseas investment will create economic benefits for New Zealand and enhance the Central North Island forest industry and the New Zealand forestry sector," the OIO said.

Companies Office records list three US-based directors for Te Waihou and no shareholders.

Hart bought Carter Holt for NZ$3.3 billion in 2006 and now runs a global packaging business through Reynolds Group Holdings. According to Forbes magazine, Hart is worth US$5.5 billion.

- INTEREST.CO.NZ