Fletcher Challenge Forests (FCF) is in negotiation with a second bidder for its 106,000ha forest estate.

The company has paid out NZ$8.5m to initial bidder, the Campbell Group, to allow it to talk to New Zealand consortium Kiwi Forests Group which has offered NZ$725m for the forests.

The payment was a variation to an exclusivity clause agreed by Campbell and FCF in September.

US-based Campbell already has a NZ$685m bid on the table.