Agri-focused private equity firm Blue Road Capital is moving back the final close for its debut fund to the end of June, as potential investors have asked for more time to commit to the fund, Agri Investor has learnt.
US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings show the fund had received $182.2 million in commitments by March, raising $33.3 million from two new investors between November 2015 and then. A source close to the fundraising said the new investments both came from US public pensions.
Commitments to the fund include $30 million from the New Mexico Educational Retirement Board (NMERB) and $15 million from the San Mateo County Employees Retirement Association, according to PEI’s Research & Analytics division.
In February, Agri Investor reported that Blue Road Capital had raised more than $200 million. That number included anticipated increases from a ratchet commitment by an existing investor, the source explained, set to 10 percent of total commitments to the fund, up to a cap of $70 million.
Blue Road Capital declined to comment on the progress of fundraising efforts, citing SEC regulations prohibiting marketing of funds.
Mark Canavan, senior portfolio manager of real assets at NMERB – which invested $30 million in the fund in 2015 – said initial returns have been strong and due diligence on the fund’s investments had been positive. “I would have loved to double down on [Blue Road],” he said. “But we would have had to cancel another commitment. It’s not for lack of wanting to.”
Blue Road Capital’s buyout fund was launched in 2014 to invest in agricultural production and supply-chain companies, with a target of $750 million and a hard-cap of $1 billion. Earlier this year, the Merced County Employees Retirement Association (MCERA) voted to abandon a planned $7.5 million investment in the fund, citing concerns that the fund was not on pace to reach its funding target.
John Duryea formed Blue Road in 2013, spinning out the management team from hedge fund Ospraie Management’s $1.2 billion Special Opportunities fund, which was predominantly allocated toward agriculture investments. Prior to joining Ospraie, he helped co-found New York buyout firm Ripplewood Holdings.
Blue Road’s first investment was pecan supplier National Pecan, which it scaled up through acquisitions of Texas-based Young Pecan and Georgia’s Poulan Pecan in 2015. Last August the fund invested $250 million in Washington State-based produce distributor, Vanguard International.