The $12.3bn pension has invested in Folium Capital’s debut agricultural vehicle, which is understood to be seeking mid-teen returns from a strategy focused on Europe and the Americas.
The New Mexico Educational Retirement Board has approved a $30 million commitment to Folium Capital’s Agriculture Fund I, according to the $12.3 billion pension’s chief investment officer.
Bob Jacksha told Agri Investor that the fund’s strategy will focus on permanent plantings, including almonds, avocados and apples. He also said that part of what attracted NMERB to the fund was the experienced team leading the strategy.
“We think there’s good expertise there, but in particular, we don’t have any current [agricultural] exposure outside of North America and this will give us some of that exposure,” he said.
NMERB senior portfolio manager Mark Canavan added that the Folium team’s experience within a specific region was particularly attractive.
“We’ve had a really hard time getting southern-hemisphere exposure,” Canavan told Agri Investor. “We’ve reviewed an inordinate amount of funds and managers to try and get exposure and this is the first time where the stars aligned.”
As of the end of March, NMERB’s $130 million agricultural portfolio has produced 5.91 percent returns since inception through investments in funds managed by Blueroad Capital and Hancock GLC Farms and a separate account with Halderman Farmland.
A source familiar with Folium told Agri Investor that the firm is targeting mid-teens returns from distinct vehicles devoted to farmland and timber, each with $250 million targets. Earlier this month, regulatory filings revealed that the firm had raised $279 million across four different structures, with two each devoted to the agriculture and timber strategies.
The source summarized the strategy as “global in geography – call it more of a value or opportunistic play, not necessarily looking at traditional investment strategies.”
Though the firm is new, its strategy is “interesting nonetheless,” according to the source, who also stressed that in their view, Folium has brought together an established group of agricultural investing professionals.
Folium was founded last year by Oliver Grantham, Andrew Wiltshire and Oliver Aguirre, all formerly of Harvard Management Company, which manages the university’s $36 billion endowment. Other Folium executives with experience at HMC include senior vice-president Jonathan Herndon and managing director Matt Ciaschini, according to their LinkedIn profiles.
Folium did not return a message seeking further comment by press time.