Michael Blakeney joins ex-Blue Sky directors at Riparian Capital Partners – exclusive

The newly-established fund manager has brought in Blakeney to lead its diversified agri strategy, which will invest in water, farmland and private equity-style agricultural assets.

Michael Blakeney has joined Riparian Capital Partners as a managing partner, Agri Investor can reveal.

Blakeney was formerly an investment director for Blue Sky Alternative Investment’s real assets division, where he was responsible for originating and managing investments in water and agriculture. He left the firm this year at a similar time to the departures of Nick Waters and Patrick Hayden, who are the other two managing partners at RCP.

Agri Investor revealed in April that Waters had launched RCP alongside Hayden. The team was rounded out by associate partners Matthew Houlahan and Brent Loeskow, both of whom previously worked as investment associates in Blue Sky’s real assets team.

Blakeney has taken an equity stake in RCP alongside the four existing staff members.

He told Agri Investor he was pleased to be working with his former colleagues again and described the opportunities available for investment as “encouraging”.

“The season is clearly challenging,” he said. “However, our experience has been that relationships and reputation, and the ability to be nimble and flexible, become much more important in these times. We’re already seeing the team’s relationships and approach provide good access to private-market joint ventures across the sector.”

Blakeney will be primarily responsible for RCP’s diversified agricultural investment strategy. Waters told Agri Investor in April that RCP intended to launch a water, agriculture and food fund this year, though Blakeney declined to comment on any specific fundraising.

Commenting on the strategy in general, Blakeney said: “It spans our core water focus, as well as a private-equity joint-venture approach to agricultural development plus more yield-focused agricultural investments. The team works across all the strategies together, but my primary responsibility is across our diversified offering, where we bundle the three approaches together to provide a balanced exposure for institutional investors.”

This will include separately managed accounts and a “commingled investment strategy”.

Blakeney said the response from the market to RCP had so far been “very encouraging” and that the firm has developed a “strong pipeline”.

“The soundings we’ve made recently with institutional investors have also been encouraging, both here in the Australian market and offshore,” he added.

In a statement, Waters said: “We are extremely pleased to welcome Michael to the team. Michael’s extensive sector experience and networks, combined with his ability to work closely with our external partners and knowledge of our existing team, makes him an excellent fit for RCP.”

RCP was established with support from Pinnacle Investment Management, which took a minority stake in the business of an undisclosed size. The firm became the 13th affiliate in Pinnacle’s stable and the first to have a focus on agriculture.