Five of the best: What’s made the headlines this year?

From the launch of Riparian Capital Partners to the re-opening of Hancock’s $700m open-ended timber and farmland fund, we review the first six months of 2019.

It’s been a busy year at Agri Investor, with the first of our two annual events – the Agri Investor Australia Forum, held in Melbourne – already in the rear-view mirror.

As members of the team head for a well-deserved August break, we will be suspending publication of our weekly letters for the remainder of the month, with regular service to resume in September.

For our last letter this month, we have taken a look back at the top five stories of this year:

Ex-Blue Sky directors launch new fund manager backed by PinnacleNick Waters, former investment director with Blue Sky Alternative Investments’ real assets team, launched a fund manager in April focused on water, agriculture and food investments, with Pinnacle Investment Partners taking a minority stake. The new firm, called Riparian Capital Partners, was set up by Waters, who has since been joined by Patrick Hayden, former director of Blue Sky’s US subsidiary, and Michael Blakeney, an ex-investment director for Blue Sky’s real assets division.

Saudi Arabia makes first move into Australian ag – With plans to deploy “hundreds of millions” of dollars into the Australian market, the Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company bought 200,000 ha of land in WA from John Nicoletti. The purchase gives SALIC, backed by public funds in Saudi Arabia, a foot in the door as it mulls opening an office in Perth ahead of deploying more capital.

Butterfly Equity fund hits $429m – Butterfly Equity, a food-focused private equity firm headquartered in Los Angeles, raised $429 million for its Butterfly Fund II by the end of May. Public pension documents identified the vehicle as a 10-year fund, with plans to make investments of between $50 million and $80 million in agriculture and aquaculture, food and beverage products, food distribution and food service. The fund eventually closed at $520 million.

Stafford launches A$150m Australia-focused farmland fund – Stafford Capital Partners is raising a A$150 million ($107.1 million; €94.4 million) vehicle focused on the Australian farmland market and had made its first farm acquisitions in the country. Head of agriculture and food Jos Boeren said Stafford Australian Agricultural Real Estate Fund II will acquire and lease medium-sized row crop and grazing properties in Australia, as well as associated water rights. The fund will target an annual return of 3.5-4 percent from rental income, in addition to annual appreciation returns that have historically averaged 5-6 percent.

Hancock expects to re-open timber and farmland fund in 2019 – Hancock expects to re-open its $700 million open-ended timber and farmland vehicle to new capital this year, after keeping it closed to new investors in 2018. The vehicle invests in commercial farmland and timberland within and outside the US through subsidiaries. It carries a minimum investment of $5 million with an initial three-year lock up and an annual extension. It targets total returns between 9 and 11 percent with a 1 percent management fee on called capital only and no management fee on commitment.

Write to Agri Investor’s new News Editor, Binyamin Ali, at