MetLife Timberland Finance Group is hiring a new timberland field representative to replace Seth Palmer, who left the company to join Prudential Timberland Capital Group this year in January.
The new hire will be based in Memphis, Tennessee, where the Group is headquartered, Brian Fox, MetLife’s head of global marketing told Agri Investor.
The firm aims to expand its current platform beyond the domestic market and to include investments in prime timber growing regions around the world in both debt and equity.
MetLife Investment provides loans to farm, ranch, food, agribusiness and timberland companies. Its customer base includes private industrial and non-industrial timberland owners and most of the timberland investment management organisations (TIMOs).
Its real estate and agricultural investments units manage a $60 billion portfolio of commercial and agricultural loans as well as real estate equity investments, according to the company description.
The MetLife Timberland Finance Group is charged with growing and managing its $2.7 billion portfolio secured by more 5 million acres of timberland throughout North America.
The Finance Group offers 3- to 20- year loans with a minimum size of $10 million to timberland properties, production timberland and forest product companies to assist their acquisitions, expansion, improvements, working capital or refinancing of existing debt. Loans typically have a fixed rate, with floating rates available, according to the 2015 Timberland Finance Group Fact Sheet.
Records shows MetLife originated $3.6 billion in agricultural loans in 2014 through its Agricultural Investments Department, a nine percent increase year-on-year. The result was in line with the company’s global strategy to grow business in emerging markets such as Brazil. MetLife has been increasing its lending in Brazil, originating $360 million in agricultural loans to Brazilian producers of cotton, grains and oilseeds, among other crops. This represents an increase of 26 percent over the $285 million originated in Brazil during 2013, a press release says.
“We succeeded in growing our business both domestically and internationally in 2014 because our customers value our strategic approach to this business,” said Barry Bogseth, managing director and head of MetLife’s agricultural portfolio unit, in a statement. “In 2015, we expect to continue our growth by identifying superior agricultural lending opportunities in the United States and abroad, especially in key emerging markets such as Brazil.”
Highlights of MetLife’s 2014 investments include a $1 billion loan to Red Mountain Timberlands. A $150 million loan was offered to Amaggi Group, a family-owned agricultural conglomerate that is one of the largest domestic producers and traders of farm commodities in Brazil.
During Palmer’s three-year career with MetLife Timberland Finance Group, he oversaw business development and investments in the southern US and Brazil, negotiated and structured large financing transactions and led underwriting credit risk assessments. He was promoted to this position from senior analyst in early 2011, his LinkedIn profile shows.