Azora makes first ag investment with ISFA stake acquisition

The real estate investor is eyeing the food production sector for its potential to mitigate climate change.

Spanish real estate and asset management firm Azora Group has acquired a 33 percent stake in agricultural project management company Iberian Smart Financial Agro.

ISFA is focused on the development, investment and management of almond crops in Spain and Portugal.

The minority stake acquisition represents Azora’s first agriculture related investment, confirmed Santiago Olivares, partner responsible for energy, infrastructure and sustainability investments.

Capital was not drawn from any of Azora’s existing vehicles, confirmed Olivares to Agri Investor, but “was done directly by Azora Capital and it is part of a new investment vertical focused on the decarbonization of real assets.”

“Azora is looking to make further investments in this vertical around decarbonization of real assets,” said Olivares. “As such, Azora has plans to invest in areas that can have an impact on climate change mitigation and adaptation in Europe, including the decarbonization of the built environment and promoting energy efficiency across industries.

“Given Agriculture accounts for 10-15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe, it is one of the main sectors in which Azora identifies potential to mitigate climate change through the adoption of new technologies and value creation initiatives. Specifically, Azora will be looking to promote businesses that improve resource efficiency or offer low-carbon solutions across the entire agricultural value chain.”

Azora is a longstanding investor in assets including housing, hotels, offices, logistics and renewable energy. The firm has €6.6 billion of assets under management, according to its website.

ISFA’s business model involves identifying farms suiting for planting high-density almond tree crops under the sustainable efficient system cultivation system.

The company “plans to develop 10,000 hectares of almond trees in the Iberian Peninsula following the strictest sustainability criteria,” a statement issued alongside Azora said.

“In the last four years, the company has converted nearly 3,000 hectares, invested more than €75 million and has a portfolio of farms under development of more than 6,000 hectares. ISFA’s EBITDA forecast for 2022 is €8 million.”