NFF, Spar Capital seek A$500m for Aussie agri fund

The National Farmers’ Federation and the boutique investment firm have already committed A$121m of the fund’s capital and expect a first close end of June.

The National Farmers’ Federation, an Australian trade association, and Spar Capital, a Sydney-based investment boutique, have teamed up to raise A$500 million ($379.0 million; €355.0 million) for the Berkeley Calga Agribusiness Fund.

“We have identified approximately A$200 million in initial investor interest in pre-marketing the […] fund,” Spar Capital executive director and co-founder of the Berkeley Calga Agribusiness Fund Tim Koster told Agri Investor.

The fund will terminate in 10 years after its initial closing. After year five, cash proceeds will be distributed to investors as assets are liquidated “including capital invested after allowing for any capital investment required for existing assets,” Koster explained.

The fund has already made commitments totaling A$121 million to Nectar Farms, which manages hydroponic vegetable production; UAG Mariculture Prawns; Macadamia Orchards; AgResource Co, a digital HR & materials supply platform; Infinite Water, which provides agribusiness waste water treatment; Phillips River Phosphate, which deals in phosphate fertilizer production; and Agri Leasing, a subsidiary of Spar’s leasing business.

According to Berkeley Calga Agribusiness Fund presentation materials Spar Capital shared with Agri Investor, Spar’s chief executive Chris West will serve as the fund manager and will be responsible for strategy, policy, overall asset allocation and the direct asset investments of the fund.

NFF will assist in managing the fund by reviewing assets and providing advice on selection of investment opportunities, as well as contributing sector knowledge and ongoing sector asset management input.

The fund’s manager has a target IRR of 20 percent over the life of the fund and intends to diversify the fund’s assets over time to include broad acre farming, protein production and processing activities.

NFF and Spar expect to hold a first close by end of June 2017, Koster said.

Founded in 2009, Spar Capital has more than A$600 million in assets under management and focuses on four lines of business: phosphate production assets, leasing, workforce services and funds management. The Berkeley Calga Agribusiness Fund is Spar Capital’s first in the sector.