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Exclusive: Fiera Comox adds former GMORR exec amid fundraise

Bob Saul has joined the Montreal-headquartered firm led by PSP Investments alumni, which recently announced a C$200m close on its debut vehicle.

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Bob Saul has joined the Montreal-headquartered firm led by PSP Investments alumni, which recently announced a C$200m close on its debut vehicle.

Fiera Comox has hired former GMO Renewable Resources agricultural executive Bob Saul as a partner.

Antoine Bisson-McLernon, the firm’s chief executive, told Agri Investor that Saul will begin Monday in a role that will largely focus on agricultural investments in the US.

“Bob has a 20-year track record in the US of buying land-based assets, both on the timber side and the agriculture side. He has row crop and permanent crop experience and has built similar types of partnerships with strong operators that we have,” McLernon said.

Saul joins Fiera Comox from Wood Creek Capital, where he assembled a $600 million portfolio containing about 300,000 acres of timber and agricultural properties after starting at the firm in early 2013, McLernon noted.

Following a strategy focused on supply-constrained markets with stable or growing demand, McLernon said that in addition to expanding existing row crop, sorghum and northern Appalachian hardwoods investments, Saul oversaw the creation of new platforms devoted to citrus, maple syrup and ranchland conversions.

Previously, Saul spent 16 years at GMORR as partner and director of northern hemisphere investments, overseeing the creation of a 2.4 million-acre portfolio that included row crop farmland and processing infrastructure, softwood and hardwood timberland and a wetlands mitigation bank.

According to McLernon, 1.6 million acres from that portfolio were sold between 2006 and 2012. Earlier this month, GMORR’s agriculture and forestry unit was acquired by The Rohatyn Group, which is focused on emerging markets, for an undisclosed sum.

At Fiera Comox, Saul takes what McLernon labeled a “key position” alongside partners R Matthew Corbett and Frederic Despars, who helped launch the firm after leaving PSP Investments last year.

On its recent second-quarter earnings call, Fiera Comox shareholder Fiera Capital Corporation announced that Fiera Comox’s open-ended agriculture fund has raised C$200 million ($157.2 million; €134.4 million) since launching at the end of June.

Fiera Capital chief executive Jean-Guy Desjardins said the firm expects the fund to raise as much as an additional C$300 million by the end of the year to support a strategy focused on diversified farmland and related assets, largely in low-risk developed markets.