California-based investment firm AGR Partners is opening a Chicago office to explore new opportunities in food and agribusiness companies in the US.
The office will be lead by managing directors Keith Freedman and Michael Solot, who joined them last year. Freeman was one of the founders of Chicago-based private equity fund Torch Lake Capital, which invests in food-related industries, among other areas. He has 16 years of private equity experience. Solot has worked in private equity and venture capital for 15 years. He was previously managing director at Wind Point.
Managing director Ejnar Knudsen said that AGR would continue to invest in agriculture and food production, adding that the firm had provided “over $150 million in the last two years to management teams seeking strategic and flexible equity and sub-debt to support their growth plans.”
AGR currently holds US egg producer Opal Foods, SEMO Milling and pet food producer 3D Corporate Solutions. Outside the US, it is invested in Australian feed producer Ridley Corporation, and New Zealand’s global dairy and livestock equipment manufacturer Tru-Test Group.
The firm is also expanding its advisor board to include Douglas Circle and Richard Crowder. Circle built frozen strawberry companies Sunrise Growers and Frozsun Foods before selling them, and is now chief executive officer of investment vehicle Circle Vision, where he manages his business enterprises.
Crowder has 40 years in senior executive and policy positions in the food and agriculture industry. He is Thornhill Professor of Agriculture Trade at Virginia Tech and serves on the Neogen Corporation Board of Directors and the Farm Foundation Board of Trustees.