ADB hiring for new agribusiness investment team – exclusive

The DFI is building a dedicated team to focus on food and agri investments as part of a plan to increase its exposure to the sector across Asia.

Asian Development Bank is building a new agribusiness investment team and is currently recruiting for an investment specialist.

Martin Lemoine, senior investment specialist in the Private Sector Operations Department, will lead the team from January 2015 when he will take on a new title, he told Agri Investor.

Currently, agri investments are made by the private sector department which is split mainly into geographies within Asia. In leading the new team, Lemoine will take on a wider investment remit; previously he was focusing purely on South Asia.

“The exciting thing for me is that I can now focus on something I enjoy the most, and across Asia,” he said.

Lemoine will make further hires in the coming months and years, as the long-term aim is to create a separate food and agri division in a few years’ time.

He has been discussing the move internally for the past year as part of a wider ADB plan to increase the DFI’s support of both inclusive business growth and food security in the region.

The new team will also help ADB move its exposure to food and agri more in line with International Finance Corp (IFC) and Inter-American Development Bank (IADB).

“We try to benchmark ADB’s private sector department to IFC and EBRD that both have dedicated agribusiness divisions and a 10 percent target to the sector within their private sector portfolios,” said Lemoine.

Agri currently accounts for just 1 percent of ADB’s private sector portfolio and it is targeting a 10 percent allocation by 2020.

ADB has deployed a total of $600 million to agribusiness through banks, $200 million through private equity funds and $2 billion through its trade finance programme since 2006, but only started investing directly in 2012. Since then it has invested in six direct transactions totalling $203 million; this is an average of $68 million and two projects a year.

This year it invested $16.5 million into Akay Flavours & Aromatics, an Indian spice producer, and will loan up to $140 million to Le Gaga Holdings’ Greenhouse Agricultural Development Project, a Chinese greenhouse vegetable producer. The latter deal closed earlier this month.

This year the DFI has also committed to Rabo Equity Advisors’ India Agribusiness Fund II and Asia Environmental Partners II, the Olympus Capital private equity fund which has a strong focus on agri, according to Lemoine.

Another department – the private sector investment funds and special initiatives division – handles ADB’s fund investments but with Lemoine’s new specialism, he expects to have greater involvement in agri fund investment decisions in the future.

The job posting for the food and agri investment specialist can be found here.