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The five most-read Agri Investor news stories of 2019

With the year drawing to a close, Agri Investor looks back on some of our most popular stories.

From the repeated blows suffered by Blue Sky, through to our ongoing worldwide coverage of fund launches and closes, the past 12 months have been full of fascinating developments.

In our last weekly letter of the year (normal service to resume 8 January), we take a look at our five most-read stories of 2019.

5 – MIRA closes third ag fund on A$1 billion hard-cap – exclusive

Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets closed capital raising on its third agriculture fund after reaching its hard-cap of A$1 billion ($671 million; €613 million) in October.

The 2017-vintage fund has a 15-year term and is a cropping strategy focused on row crops such as wheat and other grains, and permanent cropping assets including avocados. Deployment of the fund was understood to be advanced.

4 – Blue Sky to raise new ag fund, renegotiate loan terms with Oaktree

Doomed asset manager Blue Sky Alternative Investments revealed in February that its water and ag assets were performing strongly and set out plans to launch a new agricultural fund.

The firm was, however, struggling under the weight of its A$47.7 million ($34.1 million; €29.8 million) convertible note facility from Oaktree Capital Management. The firm would go on to breach its loan covenants with Oaktree, sending Blue Sky into receivership in May.

3 – Butterfly Equity fund hits $429m

Los Angeles-headquartered Butterfly Equity’s fundraising hit $429 million at the start of the year, with the firm’s Butterfly Fund II eventually closing at $520 million in June.

The firm had raised $242.5 million from 64 investors since its first sale in May 2017, while a related vehicle, Butterfly Fund II – A, had raised $186.5 million from eight investors since its first sale in July 2017.

2 – Nuveen targets $2.4bn for first open-ended farmland fund – exclusive

One of the largest farmland fund launches recorded in 2019, Nuveen’s $2.4 billion open-ended fund will target net internal rates of return of between 7 and 9 percent.

Seeking an even split between row and permanent crop assets, the fund will pursue farmland investments in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Poland, Romania and Chile.

1 – Ex-Blue Sky directors launch new fund manager backed by Pinnacle – exclusive

Former Blue Sky investment director Nick Waters established a new firm, Riparian Capital Partners, with the support of Pinnacle Investment Partners. Waters had left Blue Sky at the start of the year amid an exodus of the firm’s water team.

He would later be joined at Riparian by Michael Blakeney, another former member of Blue Sky’s water team.