Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan has entered into a strategic partnership with Australian fruit grower Montague.
The Canadian fund’s investment will be made via its subsidiary Pomona Valley, which will acquire a majority equity stake in Montague. Pomona Valley is managed by OTPP’s Australian agriculture arm AustOn, which has operated in the country since 2018.
Under the deal, Pomona Valley and Montague will merge to form one business, with Montague managing director Scott Montague retaining an ownership in the merged business and taking on the role of general manager.
Montague is a vertically-integrated grower, packer and marketer of fruit in Australia with a 70-plus-year history. It is billed as the “category leader” across apples in Australia, supplying produce to major supermarkets and wholesalers across the country as well into export markets.
Pomona Valley grows and packs stone fruits and pome fruits in the Goulburn Valley of Victoria. AustOn also manages Arooma Farms, which produces almonds in South Australia and VIC; Jasper Farms, which produces avocados in Western Australia; and Mitolo Family Farms, which grows potatoes and onions.
OTPP, which had C$249.8 billion ($184 billion; €171 billion) of assets under management as of June 30, 2023, said it was committed to the “long-term sustainable growth” of both Pomona Valley and Montague as they prepare to merge. Completion of the transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to occur in H1 2024.
AustOn declined to disclose the value of the transaction or to provide comment beyond its statements.
In a statement, OTPP senior managing director, natural resources Christopher Metrakos said: “Montague is at the forefront of the fresh produce industry in Australia, and we are excited to partner with Scott and the Montague team to continue providing innovative, sustainable, and quality produce for consumers globally.
“Ontario Teachers’ and AustOn have a proven track record in investing in the farming sector both in Australia and worldwide, and we are focused on using this experience to deliver long-term, sustainable growth of Pomona Valley and Montague as a merged business.”
Montague’s Scott Montague said: “The financial backing of a global investor in agriculture opens a range of possibilities that both businesses have been keen to explore.
“The merger of the two businesses will cement the combined operation as a preferred supplier to domestic and international customers well into the future.”