Jonathan Grabel, chief investment officer, LACERA

The Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association has invested $100 million into two funds pursuing technologies to decarbonise the food and agriculture industry.

LACERA’s investment board has approved an $80 million commitment to Cibus II, a growth equity fund managed by ADM Capital and focused on “decarbonising the agriculture sector, reducing the use of agro-chemicals and restoring the biosphere,” according to the firm’s co-founder, Robert Appleby. The board also approved a $20 million commitment to Cibus Enterprise II, a venture capital fund from ADM.

The investments come from LACERA’s Real Assets and Inflation Hedges allocation, which makes up 17 percent of the pension’s $74 billion portfolio.

“LACERA takes a fund-wide approach to climate change, which presents both investment risks and opportunities,” the pension’s chief investment officer, Jonathan Grabel, told affiliate title New Private Markets via email.

“We continue to gain exposure to climate related opportunities, including renewables, infrastructure like smart grids, and agricultural innovation. We look for opportunities that fit our strategic asset allocation and are consistent with investment parameters across the total fund, like the approved Cibus funds.”

Investors are showing increasing appetite for food technology investments to achieve environmental and social impact as well as outsized financial returns, as New Private Markets has previously reported (subscription or registration required).

LACERA has been a repeat investor in funds managed by Lilly Asia Ventures, a healthcare-focused venture capital spin off from Eli Lilly. Lilly Asia “only makes investments when attractive financial returns are aligned with the ethics of providing truly science-based, high-quality products to treat diseases and save lives,” according to the firm’s website. LACERA invested in Lilly Asia’s LAV VI and LAV VI Opportunities funds in 2020 and LAV Biosciences Fund V in 2019.

ADM – previously known as Asian Debt Management – was established in 1998 and focused on distressed debt in Asia. It established the Cibus strategy – comprising private equity and venture capital investments in European food companies – in 2017.