Agri veteran joins AgIS, cites versatility as a draw

Greg Hennenfent has joined the farmland investing firm to help pursue private equity investments across the agribusiness value chain after stints with Starr Investment Holdings, Agricole and the CME Group.

After joining AgIS Capital earlier this month as an agribusiness advisor, Greg Hennenfent told Agri Investor this week that he was drawn to the firm in part due to its versatility and ability to provide flexible capital.

Hennenfent noted that the firm, which manages separate accounts investing in agriculture, is not only providing capital for direct farmland investments, but also to vertically-integrated operations spanning processing, packaging, storage and marketing.

“Very few people have the capacity to be long-term partners, on a control or non-control basis, with agribusiness companies that require significant investments in farmland,” he said. “AgIS does do farmland investing, but to also be able to move downstream into packing and marketing creates a different value proposition to both the investor and the operators.”

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Hennenfent will focus on relationship development, acquisition sourcing and deal structuring for the Boston-headquartered farmland investing firm.

“Given his background and experience in both the farming and food segments of our markets, Greg will provide us with value-added services that will enable us to grow our business,” AgIS president and founder Jeff Conrad said in a prepared statement announcing his hiring.

Hennenfent is also currently an operating advisor with Starr Investment Holdings, a position he was promoted to in January after joining the firm as a managing director in February 2015. Hennenfent has helped Starr evaluate business services opportunities within food and agriculture.

Among previous roles, he spent three years as managing director and head of AgriFoods at Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank and one year as director of agriculture and alternative investments at the CME Group. In addition, from 2009 onward, Hennenfent has held consulting, origination and operating roles with private equity and farmland funds, agribusinesses and food companies through his own firm, Hennenfent Advisory.

AgIS was spun off from Hancock Agricultural Investment Group (HAIG) in 2013 and typically makes investments of between $25 million to $75 million from separately managed accounts on behalf large institutional investors.

The company is currently focused on permanent crops including blueberries, wine grapes, and apples, Conrad told Agri Investor. In late 2014, the firm made an investment of an undisclosed size in California Olive Ranch on behalf of an unnamed institutional investor.