MainePERS commits $45m to Paine flagship fund

The $14.3bn pension was also an investor in the previous $893m iteration of the Paine Schwartz Food Chain Fund, which is seeking $1.2bn for the fifth vehicle in the series.

The Maine Public Employees Retirement System has approved a $45m commitment to Paine Schwartz Food Chain Fund V, according to its chief investments officer.

Andrew Sawyer told Agri Investor in an email the decision by the pension’s board is subject to final due diligence, legal review and negotiations. Sawyer said the commitment will be housed in MainePERS’ private equity, rather than natural resources, portfolio.

“We found the investment to be a good fit and attractive,” wrote Sawyer.

In 2015, the $14.3 billion pension committed $60 million to the previous iteration of Paine’s flagship fund, Paine Schwartz Food Chain Fund IV, which surpassed an initial target of $800 million before closing on $893 million.

Last month, Paine Schwartz Food Chain Fund V secured a $150 million commitment from the $93.4 billion Minnesota State Board of investment and a $50 million commitment from the $8.3 billion Rhode Island Investment Authority.

According to a presentation to the Rhode Island pension, Paine Schwartz Food Chain Fund V is seeking $1.2 billion in support of a strategy focused on the upstream components of the food and agribusiness value chain. The vehicle will target 8 percent returns and 20 percent carried interest, with its distributions waterfall schedule applied at the fund level in the European tradition, rather than on a deal-by-deal basis more common in the US.

For MainePERS, the investment in the latest Paine fund marks the continuation of an active agricultural investment program. During a seven-month period stretching from late 2014 into 2015, MainePERS committed $210 million to the asset class through fund commitments that included $100 million in IFC Investment Management’s US Farming Realty Trust III, $50 million to Agriculture Capital’s debut vehicle, the ACM Permanent Crops Fund, and the $60 million commitment to Paine Schwartz Food Chain Fund IV.

Subsequent commitments to food and ag have included $50 million commitments to AMERRA’s Agri Fund III and Tillridge’s Global Agribusiness Fund II and a $150 million commitment to Twin Creeks Timber, a joint venture between Silver Creek Capital Management and Plum Creek.