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AMERRA to launch two funds in 2015 – exclusive

The Macquarie/MD Sass JV will target $750m for its third agri debt fund and is also plotting its first pure private equity fund.

AMERRA Capital Management is planning to raise two new funds in 2015. It will target $750 million for its third agribusiness debt fund, nearly $200 million larger than its Fund II.

The US-based investment fund manager will also launch its first agri-focused private equity fund. It decided to do so after discovering demand from investors amid a backdrop of increasing M&A activity in a consolidating sector, according to Craig Tashjian, partner.

“Agribusinesses do not enjoy the opportunity of tapping debt or equity capital markets,” he told Agri Investor. “We now offer the full gambit of capitalisation structures due to the scarcity of capital from banks that are pulling away from the sector.”

The target size for the private equity fund and the exact time frame for marketing both funds were not disclosed.

Amerra closed Fund II, a five-year vehicle now fully deployed, on $570 million in January 2013 after exceeding its $500 million target. Fund I closed on $270 million in the middle of 2010 and counted Macquarie Bank as one of its investors. The four-year Fund I also exceeded its target by $20 million and contributes to overall assets under management of $1.2 million including separate accounts.

The debt funds include a range of senior, unsecured debt, junior debt and mezzanine debt. Fund II also made some private equity investments accounting for 20 percent of the portfolio alongside the mezzanine assets.

There were several repeat investors in Fund II predominantly from the US, according to Tashjian. The client base is made up of pension funds, endowments and foundations. European investors were less forthcoming due to concerns about liquidity, added Tashjian.

Tashjian and his partner Nancy Obler established Amerra in 2008, both coming from a background in commodity banking. Investment management firm MD Sass and Macquarie, through their joint venture, invested into the firm and helped to launch it in February 2009.

Before leaving to form Amerra, Tashjian was head of natural resources group in the Americas for Societe Generale and previously he was global head of commodity finance at Standard Chartered Bank. Obler was managing director at SG regionally managing the soft commodity business before joining Amerra. She also worked at Standard Chartered previously.