Paine Schwartz Partners has added former Cargill executive Peter Hawthorne as an operating director.
Hawthorne was vice-president of corporate strategy at Cargill from 2006, leading a unit described as having an annual budget of $2 billion and operating across 70 countries.
Paine Schwartz chief executive Kevin Schwartz praised Hawthorne’s experience identifying attractive investment opportunities.
“He has deep relationships across the food and agribusiness industries, with an extensive track record of growing businesses and co-ordinating complex transactions,” Schwartz said.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Hawthorne joined Cargill as a Minneapolis, Minnesota-based acquisition manager in 1990.
Paine Schwartz declined to make Hawthorne available for an interview.
Several sources told Agri Investor that rather than reflecting any strengthening of business connections between Cargill and Paine Schwartz, the addition of Hawthorne was likely driven more by his desire to find new opportunities after leaving his full time position last year.
One source added that Hawthorne is an experienced “steady hand” well-known within the agriculture industry.
“If you have ever met the guy, he does have some gravitas,” the source added.
Given that Paine Schwartz’s research partnership with McKinsey & Company provides the firm with investment ideas, the source said, its motivation in adding Hawthorne is likely aimed more at bolstering its origination capabilities.
Asked about retirement plans in an interview with mergers and acquisitions software as a service provider Merrill Corporation last year, Hawthorne said he planned to look for opportunities advising private equity, pension or sovereign wealth investors active in agribusiness, food and related tech markets.
“I also have some real interest in exploring opportunities to help grow and food businesses in developing countries,” Hawthorne said. “So much of what Cargill does is outside of the United States and ag and food are baseline industries in places far afield – whether that’s parts of Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America or Asia. It’s a marvelous opportunity.”
Paine Schwartz is currently raising the fifth iteration of its flagship fund, Paine Schwartz Food Chain Fund V. The vehicle has a target of $1.2 billion and has secured commitments from the $8.1 billion Rhode Island State Treasury, the $14 billion Maine Public Employees Retirement System and the $9.25 billion Sacramento County Employees Retirement Association, among others.