CDC appoints food and agri investment director

The appointment follows an annual report revealing the UK DFI made the highest level of investment in its history last year.

UK development finance institution CDC Group has appointed Tim Pollock as investment director of food and agriculture in its equity investment team.

Pollock, who will take up the role in August, joins from silage inoculant producer Lallemand Animal Nutrition, where he was director of strategic development. He has also worked at Cargill, Macquaire, Elders and Grainfarmers.

CDC director and head of consumer business David Easton said Pollock’s experience of working for a range of agri companies including primary producers, inputs and feed companies and food processors would  bring “plough to plate [experience] … as well as transactional and post investment value creation skills”.

The appointment follows the release of CDC’s annual results last week, in which it revealed that its 2015 commitments were the highest in the 68-year history of the institution.

CDC made 27 new investment commitments totalling £712.9 million (€854 million; $938 million), more than twice the £296.5 million it committed in 2014.

In 2012 CDC reduced the geographical spread of new commitments to just Africa and South Asia and expanded from providing capital solely through third-party managed funds to making direct equity and debt investments.

A farmer who supplies the CDC-supported Agora supermarket chain in Bangladesh

CDC invested £288.3 million in Africa, £254.1 million in South Asia and £170.5 million pan-regionally. Of the total capital committed, 33 percent was to funds, 28 percent through direct equity investments, 15 percent through direct debt investments, and 24 percent to trade finance.

Among its private equity fund commitments last year, CDC committed £33.9 million to the $990 million Abraaj Africa Fund III, £20.4 million to Apis Growth Fund I, which is targeting $250 million to invest in financial services in Africa and Asia, and £33.9 million to Capital Alliance Private Equity Fund IV, which is in market targeting $600 million.

Direct investments include an additional £15.1 million in Feronia Inc, and agricultural production and processing business in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a £16.8 million investment in microfinance institution Ujjivan Financial Services Private Limited in India, and a £10 million investment in Miro Forestry Company in Ghana and Sierra Leone.

In September CDC partnered with Norwegian DFI Norfund in a $700 million deal to take direct ownership of Globeleq, the largest independent power producer in Africa.

Last year CDC also received a cash injection from the UK Government, its first new money in 20 years. Its shareholder, the Department for International Development, will invest £735 million in the DFI over three years to fund investments across asset classes.

Investment partners in African agriculture include 8 Miles and Silverstreet Africa. They are also co-investors with agribusiness-focused Phatisa in a Democratic Repubic of Congo palm oil project.

In the annual report, CDC’s chief executive Diana Noble said the investment “was a telling endorsement for the strategy we agreed in 2012, and our performance against the expectations we set”.