AgIS adds Hancock execs

Stephen Kenney and Danielle Harris have joined the Boston-based firm, with Kenney telling Agri Investor he hopes the role will allow him to view the asset class through 'a different set of lenses.'

Separate account-focused private equity firm AgIS Capital has hired two former Hancock Natural Resource Group executives, the firm announced.

Boston-headquartered AgIS, which is led by founder and former president of Hancock Agricultural Investment Group Jeff Conrad, hired former HNRG transaction manager Danielle Harris late last month to serve as an operations analyst in AgIS Property Management, AgIS’ property management group.

In addition, Stephen Kenney, formerly vice president of business development with HNRG, joined AgIS in a newly-formed role of vice president for business development.

“Stephen and I worked together for many years,” Conrad told Agri Investor. “I hired him in Hancock in 2005 and we’re a growing organization. We get approached a lot of by different people that realize that we are growing and want to be part of something that some people think is pretty exciting.”

“This was just a chance to go and work with Jeff, who used to be my boss, and a number of other colleagues I had worked with in my prior life and a chance to look at the asset class from a different set of lenses,” Kenney said told Agri Investor.

Another factor in the move, according to Kenney, was his interest in expanding his ability to look “beyond the farm gate”, such as at investments in agricultural equipment or processing assets.

“There’s just a lot of good opportunities out there when you go beyond that farm gate; I don’t want to call it a hurdle, but sometimes there’s a barrier,” Kenney said.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Boston-based Harris is joining AgIS after five months as transaction manager with HNRG, a role described as being focused on managing the “disposition process for all identified assets.” Harris joined HNRG in 2013, after an earlier stint as a credit analyst with John Hancock Financial Services in Boston. The profile shows that Harris assumed the transaction manager position after three years as an investment analyst at HNRG and about one year as an operations manager with the group.

Kenney’s career at Hancock began in 2005, after earlier stints with Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and Investors Bank and Trust, according to his LinkedIn profile. At HNRG, Kenney spent five years as an investment analyst before becoming vice president of business development for the unit in 2010.

Hancock representatives declined to comment on replacements for Harris or Kenney.

Established in 2013, AgIS invests in farmland and agricultural operating companies on behalf of clients who have established separate accounts with the firm. AgIS focuses on transactions of between $10 million and $100 million and in October secured a $150 million commitment from the $74 billion Virginia Retirement System.

In late 2014, the firm made an investment of an undisclosed size in California Olive Ranch, which grows olives and produces extra virgin olive oil on behalf of an undisclosed institutional investor.