Last Thursday: ‘Give me $100m and I’ll spend it in a day’

Agri Investor’s recent networking event drew a varied crowd that discussed the attraction of forestry assets to UK investors, big agtech players and marketing regulations. Debates about African agriculture returned.

It wouldn’t be an Agri Investor ‘Last Thursday’ networking event without some passionate debate. And last week in London we had plenty.

African agriculture returned as a heated topic for discussion, with a couple of GPs lamenting the ability to invest capital on the continent. They argued that deploying more than a few million dollars would be tough to do in any reasonable time frame. But another GP boasted: “Give me $100 million and I will spend it in a day.” The parties agreed that the ability to deploy did depend on what stage a firm is at in terms of securing land rights; one GP has been working on that for over five years.

Other discussions took us around the world and from back office to front office issues. An asset manager from Latin America, for example, complained that competitors offering funds in the region were not adhering to the regulatory restrictions on marketing.

Meanwhile, a forestry investment manager compared US investors to European investors, pointing out that while European investors have shown interest, it hasn’t reached the same level of institutional appetite. High net worth individuals based in the UK have long used the asset class as a means to transfer inheritance to their families due to tax reliefs offered by forestry ownership, he added.

A debate also struck up between a seasoned investment manager and an agtech professional about the helpfulness of partnering with a large industry player versus staying private for as long as possible. The GP argued that a big corporate would take advantage of a young agtech company and leave it with little control over its assets. But the agtech professional felt passionately that the blessing and endorsement of a large industry player would only help the reputation of the brand and future fundraising.

These were just a few snippets from the evening. Stay tuned for notes from our next event.