Exclusive: Craigmore targets US investors as it considers new structure for 2018

The $550m New Zealand-focused manager has appointed a family office and institutional investor specialist as strategic advisor to help expand its LP base. We spoke with chairman Nick Tapp to find out more.

Seasoned real assets executive Andrew Hoffmann has joined the board of Craigmore Sustainables Group as the firm considers its next steps after the looming close of two pooled vehicles.

Hoffmann, who in the summer launched a consultancy that aims to link family offices and institutions with direct investment opportunities, will advise the New Zealand-focused manager on a range of strategic questions that include the structuring of managed accounts and pooled funds.

Nick Tapp, Craigmore’s chairman, told Agri Investor that his appointment comes at a time when the firm is looking for ways to gain greater traction in North America.

“Where we would like to use Andy’s skills and knowledge is in the US market because the majority of our investors come from elsewhere in the world,” he said. “The US is the largest pool of capital, held by many of the most experienced investors in farmland. We see that as a logical place for us to spend some time.”

Crucial to this endeavor will be Hoffmann’s quest to understand what investors want to achieve from agricultural investments as the firm reflects on the types of product it should next put to the market.

Tapp said Craigmore was likely to close two vehicles – the Permanent Crop Partnership and Dairy Partnership II – in the coming months, providing it with an opportunity to “start with a clean sheet of paper” once the milestones are reached.

“We have not made a final decision on the most appropriate structure going forward, but it’s very much part of our discussions with Andy and the team in New Zealand in the next few weeks. We will be looking to launch something, a new Craigmore entity, or structure, or vehicle, early in 2018. We have good momentum at the moment.”

The firm currently manages about $550 million, according to Tapp. “We have a business that has done well. Obviously, there is quite a lot of dairy in there, and we had two hard years with low milk prices in 2015-16. But we’re through that now.”

He was especially enthusiastic about permanent crops, where he saw “a period of rapid growth in market share” for the likes of apples and kiwi fruit.