Personality of the Year
WINNER: Marc Drouin
RUNNER UP: Heechung Sung
PSP Investments had another busy 2023 when it came to investing in agriculture – and global head of natural resources investments Marc Drouin continues to be the spearhead behind the C$230.5 billion fund’s push into the asset class. The growth has been impressive – at the end of PSP’s fiscal year in March 2018, the natural resources portfolio stood at A$4.8 billion. In 2022, that had more than doubled to A$11.6 billion. Drouin’s leadership and dealmaking nous has steered the fund to become the world’s leading institutional investor in agriculture, with the fund front of mind any time assets of note come to market.
Fund Manager of the Year
WINNER: BTG Pactual Timberland Investment Group
RUNNER UP: Warakirri Asset Management
BTG Pactual’s Timberland Investment Group built on its established position atop our regional and timberland rankings during a year that saw the firm expand its portfolio in North and South America. In February, the $5.6 billion TIMO collaborated with Canadian pension BCI for the creation of Caddo Sustainable Timberlands to expand exposure in the US Southeast from an initial portfolio of 889,000 acres stretching across East Texas and West Louisiana. TIG also made the first acquisition under its Latin American reforestation strategy with 24,000 hectares of degraded land in Brazil. Conservation International partnered with TIG on the strategy in 2021. It seeks to raise $1 billion to acquire degraded land in Latin America and reforest it with a mix of commercial timberland and natural forest restoration.
Institutional Investor of the Year
WINNER: PSP Investments
RUNNER UP: Clean Energy Finance Corporation
PSP Investments retained its crown as our Institutional Investor of the Year – just reward for another busy year of dealmaking around the world that has seen the firm continue to broaden its reach across a range of commodities and regions. As of March 31, 2022, PSP Investments’ natural resources portfolio had reached A$11.6 billion ($7.7 billion; €7.2 billion), generating a five-year annualized return of 8.5 percent, per figures published by the fund. More than half the portfolio is in Oceania, with 24 percent in the US. The main focus remains agriculture, accounting for 66.1 percent of the portfolio, with timber making up 30.9 percent. It will be no surprise to see PSP in the running for this award again soon.
Equity Fundraising of the Year
WINNER: Shore Capital Partners
RUNNER UP: Butterfly Equity
Shore Capital Partners landed the coveted Global Equity Fundraising of the Year award, beating stiff competition from the likes of Craigmore Sustainables and runner up Butterfly Equity, as both GPs closed vehicles that were larger than Shore’s $292 million fund. Voters were impressed by the short period of time taken for the fund to surpass its $250 million target and land at its final figure, which “was effectively a 71-day process from start of our launch to final close,” partner Richard Boos told Agri Investor. The fund received commitments from university endowments, funds of funds and family offices to take home the highly coveted global fundraising award.
Sustainable Investor of the Year
WINNER: The Rockefeller Foundation
RUNNER UP: Clean Energy Finance Corporation
Natural capital has long been an investment theme for New York-headquartered philanthropy The Rockefeller Foundation, and 2022 saw a continuation of this as it backed vehicles pursuing strategies in farmland sustainability, biodiversity restoration and marine life, among others. The foundation supported The Lightsmith Group’s Climate Resilience Fund, which closed on $186 million at the start of the year. The vehicle is pursuing a global climate adaption strategy and was also backed by PNC Insurance Group and Caprock Impact Partners, among others. The foundation granted more than $10 million to support equity and sustainability in US public and private procurement, as part of plans to deploy $105 million to food-focused initiatives over three years.
Impact Investor of the Year
RUNNER UP: TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good
Alongside Tikehau Capital and Unilever, AXA launched a €1 billion impact fund that will focus on regenerative farming and contributed €100 million as part of a total €300 million seed commitment from the three partners. The fund will seek to enable a wider transition to regenerative farming practices by providing equity to farms, investing in enabling technology and supporting alternative means of food production, such as indoor farming and alternative protein solutions. The group’s AXA IM Alts division also launched a new natural capital strategy in 2022, which raised €500 million from existing investors. The pool of capital will target investments that can address climate change and biodiversity loss by trying to protect “vulnerable or high-value natural habitats” from deforestation, a statement said.
Impact Fund Manager of the Year
WINNER: Conservation Resources
RUNNER UP: ECBF Management
Conservation Resources closed numerous deals in 2022 geared toward impact investing in natural capital assets. Since its founding in 2004, the firm has acquired 437,000 timberland acres in Maine – 300,000 acres of which is permanently protected – and last year sold 35,000 acres to the Trust for Public Land. The trust will transfer the property to the newly created Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument to improve habitat connectivity and the outdoor recreation economy. Conservation Resources also purchased a 700-acre certified organic permanent crop property in central Washington to establish 66 acres of native pollinator habitat, which will support native bees and other threatened beneficial insects.
Natural Capital Fund Manager of the Year
WINNER: Climate Asset Management
RUNNER UP: Mirova
HSBC and Pollination JV Climate Asset Management raised more $650 million in commitments from a range of LPs across its two separate natural capital and carbon strategies, both of which were anchored by HSBC. The natural capital strategy aims to deliver returns while making positive environmental contributions through regenerative management of natural assets. The vehicle participated in a joint investment in a regenerative almond production in Spain that will also target biodiversity enhancement. CAM’s carbon strategy targets landscape restoration in developing economies and will deliver returns exclusively through carbon credits. Earlier in 2022, the firm also delivered the first tranche of a $150 million financing package which it had pledged to the Restore Africa program, which aims to restore 2 million-ha across the continent.
Agtech Investor of the Year
RUNNER UP: Ordway Selections
Privately held global foods business Cargill has developed a reputation as a keen backer of agtech start-ups and 2022 was no exception. The company was involved in a $250 million Series D funding round for Innovafeed, a company focused on the production of insects for animal and plant nutrition. The round was led by the Qatar Investment Authority and was also backed by Creadev, Temasek and ADM, among others. Cargill also participated in the $100 million Series B for cell-cultured meat start-up Wildtype; it backed Regrow Ag’s $38 million Series B; and made a commitment to life sciences venture capital fund Seventure Partners Health for Life Capital II. Cargill also acquired a 24.5 percent stake in the salmon farming subsidiary of Chile’s Multiexport Foods in a $290 million deal.
Agtech Fund Manager of the Year
WINNER: Anterra Capital
RUNNER UP: Trailhead Capital
Dutch fund manager Anterra Capital takes our inaugural Agtech Fund Manager of the Year award. The firm held a $260 million final close on it second food and agriculture technology fund in May 2022, taking it well beyond the original $230 million hard-cap. The fund, Anterra FA Ventures II, was launched in February 2021 and hit its $175 million target in short order. The vehicle ended oversubscribed after the hard-cap was extended – an impressive result in a challenging year for fundraising generally, without taking into account the discussions surrounding tech valuations.
Innovation of the Year
WINNER: Agroforestry Partners (Propagate)
RUNNER UP: Proofminder
Agroforestry Partners is a financing platform launched by Propagate to unlock agroforestry at scale. AP enables agroforestry conversion for landowners through a lease model. The company will provide a return-focused and environmentally friendly option for investors and farmers by converting 10,000 acres of farmland to agroforestry production by year-end 2025, and sequestering 700,000 tons of CO2. Propagate advises more than 20,000 acres of agroforestry, with 100,000 trees planted and an additional 760,000 trees and shrubs in the pipeline, the company said. It planted an additional 37,000 trees in 2022 on farms in New York, Ohio, Kentucky, Hawaii and elsewhere.
Deal of the Year
WINNER: Chromy Estate (Warakirri Asset Management)
RUNNER UP: Bluesource Sustainable Forests Company portfolio (Oak Hill Advisors, TPG Rise, The Forestland Group)
Australian fund manager Warakirri Asset Management won Global Deal of the Year for its acquisition of Chromy Estate, the home of Josef Chromy Wines in the Australian state of Tasmania. In an unusual three-way deal initiated by Warakirri, the asset manager acquired a 61-hectare vineyard, restaurant and cellar door assets on site, transitioning them into a long-term lease agreement with Endeavour Group, one of Australia’s leading drinks and hospitality businesses. At the same time, Endeavour then acquired the related Josef Chromy Wines business and brands for its own Paragon Wine Estates fine wine portfolio. This complex deal was executed successfully on behalf of Warakirri’s investors.
Farmland Deal of the Year
WINNER: Moxee Valley Orchards (Conservation Resources)
RUNNER UP: Casella Family vineyards (PSP Investments)
Conservation Resources’ August acquisition Moxee Valley Orchards – a 700-acre organic apple property in Washington State – is 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 that will benefit the farm and surrounding producers.
Farmland Fund Manager of the Year
WINNER: Proterra Investment Partners
RUNNER UP: Nuveen Natural Capital
Proterra Investment Partners has won the award for Farmland Fund Manager of the Year thanks to its excellence in operational performance and another successful Australian asset divestment after the sale of its Corinella portfolio. This year, the firm completed the exit of its Tasmanian assets, following years of substantial investment and development. The Vaucluse asset was unique in Tasmania for the scale of its cereal production – unusual for that region of Australia – and came with a boutique hotel on site that Proterra had revitalized. The sale continued a recent run of strong results for the firm’s investors.
Timberland Deal of the Year
WINNER: Bluesource Sustainable Forests Company portfolio (Anew Climate, Oak Hill Advisors, TPG Rise, The Forestland Group)
RUNNER UP: Vista Hermosa Inversiones Forestales (BTG Pactual Timberland Investment Group, British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, APG)
Bluesource Sustainable Forests Company 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 entered into definitive agreements to acquire additional TFG-managed entities holding an additional 200,000 timberland acres.
Timberland Fund Manager of the Year
WINNER: BTG Pactual Timberland Investment Group
RUNNER UP: Astarte Capital Partners
BTG Pactual Timberland Investment Group adds to its Global Fund Manager of the year prize by also claiming the Global Timberland Fund Manager of the Year award, as the firm flexed its muscles in an asset class in which it has a longstanding pedigree. In February, the $5.6 billion TIMO collaborated with Canadian pension BCI for the creation of Caddo Sustainable Timberlands 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.
Agribusiness Deal of the Year
WINNER: Windmill Farms (Instar Asset Management)
RUNNER UP: Perfection Fresh (Equilibrium, PSP Investments, Temasek)
Instar Asset Management partnered with the management team of controlled environment agriculture mushroom producer Windmill Farms (formerly Greenwood Mushroom Development) to acquire a majority stake in the business from Novacap in the summer of 2022. Instar managing partner Morty White told Agri Investor the deal was “the tip of the iceberg” and that the firm has “looked at a lot of investments in vertical farming and in greenhouses, which support local agricultural systems and resilience.” Capital was deployed from InstarAGF Essential Infrastructure Fund II, which closed on $1.2 billion in 2020. Agricultural infrastructure is one of four core themes for the strategy, along with mobility, connectivity and new energy transition.
Agribusiness Fund Manager of the Year
WINNER: Roc Partners
RUNNER UP: Equilibrium
Sydney-headquartered Roc Partners takes the award for Agribusiness Fund Manager of the Year, another new category for 2022, building on its success in 2021 when it was named overall Fund Manager of the Year in both the Global and Asia-Pacific sections. The private equity firm reached a major milestone last year, surpassing A$2 billion ($1.3 billion; €1.2 billion) in agricultural assets under management. It also executed on three investments during the awards period, covering assets in food production, farm inputs and carbon markets, as well as reaching a final close on its first agriculture-focused commingled PE fund.