Stafford weighs agri strategy

Stafford Capital Partners will invest in dairy, beef and row crops, and is splitting its commitments between primaries, secondaries and co-investments.

Stafford Capital Partners is weighing up whether to raise a fund or create separately managed accounts for plans, according to a managing partner who leads investments in the sector.

The advisory and alternative assets investment firm is in the fundraising stage for its new agriculture programme, which will invest in dairy, beef and row crops in North America, Australia and New Zealand, and Latin America.

The strategy will include around a 20 percent allocation to primary investments, 40 percent to secondaries and the remainder to funds and co-investments.

“There are much more deals than we originally expected when we started looking at secondaries,” Bernd Schanzenbacher, a managing partner who leads Stafford’s agriculture investments told sister site Secondaries Investor. Stafford hasn’t made any investments from its new strategy yet, he said, adding that the firm is still deciding whether to raise a fund or create separate managed accounts for investments.

He declined to comment on the target size of the strategy or how much capital the firm had raised so far.

In addition to North America, Australia and New Zealand, Stafford’s strategy will focus on Latin America including Brazil, Uruguay, Chile and Argentina. Chile offers interesting permanent crops investments, while the fertile soil, good infrastructure and know-how in Argentina makes that country attractive, Schanzenbacher said.

Interest is increasing in agriculture as institutional investors in Europe and Australia look to invest in real assets, Schanzenbacher said.

“Agricultural assets offer very interesting investment features such as inflation hedges, you can use fertile land in perpetuity, you have bond-like investments because you have dividends, and it has low correlation with other asset classes,” Schanzenbacher said.

Schanzenbacher joined Stafford in 2014 and leads the selection, negotiation, due diligence, portfolio management and relationship management of its agriculture investment business. The firm has 12 professionals focusing on timberland and agriculture investments globally, according to the firm’s website.

Stafford provides investment management and advisory services in alternative assets and has $4.5 billion under management. In May, the firm announced a final $484 million closing of Stafford International Timberland VII, its fund of funds focused on investing in timberland funds. In June last year Stafford acquired a $700 million portfolio of assets from Macquarie Investment Services and Macquarie Investment Management.