Agri Investor Awards 2022 – Americas winners

BTG Pactual Timberland Investment Group adds to its two wins in the Global awards section by landing a further two prizes in the regional Americas awards.

Fund Manager of the Year

WINNER: BTG Pactual Timberland Investment Group

RUNNER UP: Manulife Investment Management

Adding to its wins for Global Fund Manager of the Year and Global Timberland Fund Manager of the year, BTG Pactual Timberland Investment Group also scooped the Fund Manager of the Year award for the Americas. The firm received widespread recognition for creation of the Caddo Sustainable Timberlands entity to expand exposure in the US Southeast from an initial portfolio of 889,000 acres stretching across East Texas and West Louisiana. The firm also made its first acquisition under its Latin American reforestation strategy with a 24,000-hectare asset of degraded land in Brazil. The firm’s LatAm strategy seeks to raise $1 billion to acquire degraded land that it will reforest.

Institutional Investor of the Year

WINNER: Washington State Investment Board

RUNNER UP: Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund

In 2022, the Washington State Investment Board expanded its already sizable agricultural portfolio through a series of investments with farmland and agribusiness-focused managers. The $155 billion pension provided a A$350 million ($234 million; €218 million) commitment to a Laguna Bay strategy with plans for upstream and midstream investments into Australia’s row and permanent crop, livestock and aquaculture markets. Further downstream, WSIB also committed €175 million to a €7 billion vehicle managed by PAI Partners targeting European food and consumer investments and a further $250 million to Washington-headquartered agribusiness specialists Arable Capital, in which it is the only investor.

Equity Fundraising of the Year

WINNER: Butterfly Equity

RUNNER UP: Area One Farms

Los Angeles-headquartered Butterfly Equity surpassed its second fund’s initial target of $750 million to close on $1 billion in August 2022. The firm was founded in 2016 with a strategy focused on agribusiness and aquaculture, food distribution, food service, and food and beverage brands. Targeted subsectors include specialty inputs, high-value crops, functional products, healthy snacks and protein-rich foods, along with natural and organic retailers, healthy fast food and franchised restaurant concepts. Co-founder Adam Waglay told Agri Investor that Butterfly’s specialization on the entire food value chain has made it an attractive partner for food businesses, as well as the US and Canadian pension plans, sovereign wealth funds, insurance companies and funds of funds that provide the majority of its capital.

Deal of the Year 

WINNER: Caddo Sustainable Timberlands (BTG Pactual Timberland Investment Group, British Columbia Investment Management Corporation)

RUNNER UP: 47,000-acre Washington and Oregon timber assets (Nuveen Natural Capital)

February saw the $5.6 billion TIMO BTG Pactual Timberland Investment Group collaborate with Canadian pension BCI for the creation of Caddo Sustainable Timberlands, a joint venture with plans to expand exposure in the US Southeast from an initial portfolio of 889,000 acres stretching across East Texas and West Louisiana. CST wasted no time in its stated mission to become a leading player in regional timber markets, supplementing the initial portfolio with a July acquisition of another 119,000 acres in East Texas and West Louisiana it described as well-positioned to benefit from conservation opportunities and expanding real estate and timber markets.

Farmland Deal of the Year

WINNER: Moxee Valley Orchards (Conservation Resources)

RUNNER UP: Sacramento County properties (Nuveen Natural Capital)

Voters were so impressed by Conservation Resources’ August deal to acquire Moxee Valley Orchards – a 700-acre organic apple property in Washington State – that it was able to land the firm the Global Farmland Deal of the Year award as well as the Americas Farmland Deal of the Year award. The acquisition forms an important step in the firm’s effort to expand into sustainable ag from the timber markets that have been its focus since its founding in 2004. In addition to plans for new acreage in organic apples and row crops, the multifaceted deal includes a climate-controlled storage facility and collaboration with Portland, Oregon-headquartered conservation non-profit the Xerces Society that aims to create 86 acres of native pollinator habitat benefiting the farm and surrounding producers.

Farmland Fund Manager of the Year 

WINNER: Nuveen Natural Capital

RUNNER UP: Macfarlan Capital Partners

Nuveen’s Martin Davies told Agri Investor in 2021 that the frequency of extreme weather events and a rising consciousness of environmental challenges were factors in the firm’s embrace of a “natural capital” stewardship framework he felt investors had a moral obligation to participate in. Last year, Nuveen formalized this shift by combining farmland and timber under a new natural capital umbrella. The group proved its ability to continue building scale under this new framework through a complicated acquisition of 5,500 farmland acres across 30 titles in California. The deal shows the key role played by such roll-up transactions in helping managers build scale in markets where selling activity can be sporadic.

Timberland Deal of the Year

WINNER: Bluesource Sustainable Forests Company portfolio (Oak Hill Advisors, TPG Rise, The Forestland Group)

RUNNER UP: 47,000-acre Washington and Oregon timber assets (Nuveen Natural Capital)

Bluesource Sustainable Forests Company’s blockbuster deal at the end of 2022 landed it the Global and Americas Timberland Deal of the Year awards. BSFC is a joint venture between New York-based investment firm Oak Hill Advisors and Anew Climate, a carbon project developer backed by TPG Rise. BSFC’s November acquisition of a 1.7 million-acre portfolio managed by The Forestland Group for $1.8 billion ranks among the largest conservation-focused investments ever in US forestry. BSFC also agreed to acquire other TFG-managed entities holding an additional 200,000 timberland acres. BSFC’s portfolio will exceed 1.9 million acres on completion.

Timberland Fund Manager of the Year 


RUNNER UP: BTG Pactual Timberland Investment Group

TPG Rise took home the Americas Timberland Fund Manager of the Year award for its significant and decisive moves to bring numerous companies together, which subsequently closed some of the biggest deals in US timberland history. TPG Rise started 2022 by creating Anew Climate – a merger between carbon project developer Bluesource and renewable natural gas company Element Markets. Anew Climate subsequently joined Oak Hill Advisors to launch Bluesource Sustainable Forests Company, a joint venture that acquired a $1.8 billion portfolio of forest carbon assets from The Forestland Group.

Agribusiness Deal of the Year 

WINNER: Windmill Farms (Instar Asset Management)

RUNNER UP: New Columbia Fruit Packers (Goldman Sachs Asset Managers)

Instar Asset Management’s Windmill Farms deal (formerly Greenwood Mushroom Development) was good enough to see the firm scoop two awards, as it took home the Global Agribusiness Deal of the Year award, as well as the Americas Agribusiness Deal of the Year award for the acquisition. The firm partnered with the management team of the controlled environment agriculture mushroom producer to acquire a majority stake in the business from Novacap. Instar managing partner Morty White told Agri Investor the deal was “just the tip of the iceberg” for the firm and it has “looked at a lot of investments in vertical farming and in greenhouses, which support local agricultural systems and resilience.”

Agribusiness Fund Manager of the Year

WINNER: Shore Capital Partners

RUNNER UP: Trailhead Capital

University endowments, funds of funds, family offices and other financial institutions were all among the LPs that contributed to the $290 million close in June for Food and Beverage Fund II raised by Chicago-based Shore Capital Partners. Partner Richard Boos told Agri Investor the low double-digit IRRs achieved by the vehicle’s $150 million predecessor closed in 2019 played an important role in attracting capital to a strategy that includes a focus on companies with between $5 million and $100 million in revenue. Among investments from the vehicle is a partnership with Chino, California-based custom flavor developer OC Flavors, which acquired a Canadian competitor in early 2023.