Exclusive: Westchester hires ex-EBRD exec as president

The addition of Peter Bryde comes as the TIAA/Nuveen affiliate expands its agricultural investments in Europe through a dedicated fund.

Peter Byrde

The addition of Peter Bryde comes as the TIAA/Nuveen affiliate expands its agricultural investments in Europe through a dedicated fund.

TIAA/Nuveen-affiliate Westchester Group of Europe has hired former European Bank for Reconstruction and Development executive Peter Bryde as president.

Effective Monday, Bryde replaces Martin Davies as Westchester’s president, based in London and reporting to Davies. In May 2016, Randall Pope, Westchester Management chief executive, announced that Davies would be his successor, effective January 2018.

“Peter brings to Westchester over two decades of experience across Europe’s agriculture sector,” Davies told Agri Investor. “We look forward to drawing on his significant expertise as we further build out Westchester’s agricultural investment platform in Europe.”

At EBRD, Bryde spent four years managing the bank’s equity team, responsible for more than 200 direct equity investments with a total value of more than €4.5 billion, according to his LinkedIn profile. Previously, he spent four years as a deputy director of agribusiness at EBRD and began his career as a director at Standard Bank.

During his time at EBRD, Bryde was credited with playing a role in encouraging the adoption of warehouse receipt legislation throughout Central and Eastern Europe. The legislation allows agricultural producers to borrow against receipts for goods stored in warehouses.

Bryde also serves as a member of the supervisory board of Serbian grain and oil-seeds company Victoria Group and from November 2015 through June was a board observer for Tiryaki Agro Foods Industry Co., a Turkish agricultural commodity trader, according to the profile.

A key focus of Bryde’s work with Westchester is likely to be the fund the firm is currently raising to invest in European farmland. According to its most recently published list of investments, $37 billion Swedish pension AP Fonden 2 made a $67.9 million commitment to the TIAA European Farmland Fund last year.

According to a quarterly newsletter by Westchester, the TEFF completed its seed investment in August 2016, when it purchased 31,900 acres of arable farmland spread across 23 locations in Poland.

In the newsletter, Marcin Wielgosz, Westchester country manager for Poland, wrote that while the TEFF will look to make investments in multiple locations, Poland’s agricultural fundamentals and membership in the European Union made the country a natural initial focus for the fund.

“While similar to Western Europe, there is still a significant yield gap to be closed,” Wielgosz wrote. “This is reflected in significantly lower farmland prices, which will be growing over time in line with improving farming efficiency and maturity of the market – enhancing our direct and indirect yields from the investment.”