Cibus hires BlackRock exec for new natural capital role

Kristen Weldon previously helped launch Louis Dreyfus Company’s venture and growth unit focusing on specialty protein, aquaculture and specialty commodities.

Food- and agriculture-focused Cibus Capital has hired a former BlackRock and Louis Dreyfus Company executive to fill a newly created role of head of natural capital.

The London-headquartered firm announced Thursday that Kristen Weldon has joined Cibus also as a partner and will hold a position focused on elevating its natural capital investments and supporting best practices on biodiversity and ecosystem services among existing portfolio companies.

Cibus noted Weldon’s most recent experience – two years as global head of sustainable investing for BlackRock’s Alternatives platform – focused on a sustainable investment strategy that included energy transition, natural climate solutions and carbon market deployments across private equity, infrastructure, real estate and credit.

“Kristen’s joining shows testament to Cibus’ growth as a firm over the past eight years and our serious commitment to natural capital as an asset class,” Cibus founder and chief investment officer Rob Appleby added in the statement.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Weldon previously served two years as head of innovation and downstream strategy at LDC, and was a member of its executive group. According to Cibus’ statement, her work at LDC focused on the launch of the company’s venture and growth investing in ag which focused on specialty protein, aquaculture and specialty commodities.

London-based Weldon’s profile also shows she previously spent 13 years as a senior managing director at Blackstone and four years in corporate finance at JPMorgan Chase.

“Nature and natural capital are a critical part of the transition to a low-carbon economy, and I look forward to applying my nearly 25 years of investment experience to this growing opportunity,” she said in the statement.

Cibus’ statement also includes a United Nations Convention of Biological Diversity definition of natural capital that includes “natural assets, including geology, soil, air, water and all living things.” It specifically includes agricultural land, forests, oceans and other nature-related assets supporting the provision of food, fuel, fiber, clean air, freshwater, flood and erosion control, biodiversity, genetic resources and carbon storage.

In February, Cibus drew from Cibus Fund II to support its acquisition of British cell-grown tree producer Alba Trees for an undisclosed price. Investment director Tom Ritchie told Agri Investor at the time that natural capital is one of seven target sectors for the vehicle, which had raised at least $340 million from at least 335 LPs as of February. The vehicle will also support investments into controlled environment farming, permanent row crops, soil and crop health, animal health, human food and health as well as aquaculture, he said.

More recently, Cibus acquired a controlling stake in Dutch greenhouse business Duijvestijn Tomaten for an undisclosed price in July and sold its Fund I investment into Spanish olive oil producer Innoliva Group to Fiera Comox for an undisclosed price in September.