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New Mexico PERA seeks agri investment opportunities

The $14.7bn New Mexico Public Employees Retirement Association is actively exploring agriculture investment opportunities after making its first foray into the sector last year.

The $14.7 billion New Mexico Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) is actively exploring agriculture investment opportunities after making its first foray into the sector last year, a $45 million commitment to private equity food and agribusiness fund Paine & Partners Capital Fund IV.

“We are pursuing opportunities within the space,” Christina Keyes, portfolio manager of real returns at PERA told Agri Investor. “We find crops, ag production, ag enhancements, food development and distribution of interest.”

The decision to invest in agriculture is part of a plan by Keyes to diversify PERA’s real assets portfolio which she started working on a year and a half  ago. “We have been making more infrastructure investments and we have been actively pursuing agri investment as well.”

PERA does not have plans to add timberland assets to its portfolio at this stage, “but maybe down the road,” she added.

Agriculture is allocated from the pension funds real assets portfolio which currently stands at $832 million, according to 30 May 2015 data. This puts its real assets exposure at just over 5 percent. According to Keyes, the fund’s real assets portfolio has a target of 7 percent.

The real assets portfolio includes oil and gas sector investments primarily and some private infrastructure investments. “The investments are primarily comprised of oil and gas, upstream, midstream and downstream,” she said. “The portfolio was developed over the course of the last eight years and the economy in the State of New Mexico is heavily oil and gas driven.”

Paine & Partners Fund IV closed on $893 million in January, exceeding its $800 million target.