Agspring eyes diversification with new hires

The investment group says it is investigating expansion into new agri sectors and will eschew private equity for long term private investment when it comes to agricultural infrastructure.

US agri investment group Agspring has added two new hires with backgrounds in alternative crops and food processing to its executive team, following a recapitalisation in December. The group was founded in 2012 in partnership with NGP Global Agriculture Partners to invest in the midstream agricultural sector.

The group wants to diversify its agri portfolio following the recapitalisation round, which was led by American Infrastructure MLP and backed by a number of unnamed institutional investors in December, a representative told Agri Investor. 

Kim Kuebler and Jeanne McCaherty, previously vice-presidents for Seaboard Overseas Trade Group and Cargill respectively, will join Agspring in what vice-president of marketing Bradford Warner described as “flexible consulting roles”. The move also comes as the group shifts its focus to “long-term private investment” when it comes to agricultural infrastructure.

The new executives will provide sector-specific advice on potential expansion opportunities, and look to add processing and speciality crop exposure to Agspring’s portfolio of rice and grain production, packaging, transport and logistics companies, said Warner.

“We’re typically asking them to contribute in areas where they’re strongest in their careers. Kim Kuebler has a tremendous track record looking at specialty crops and trade flows across the world that might be things outside of more traditional commodities, perhaps trade flows that are not getting the attention that they could,” said Warner. “Jeanne has a very strong background in food processing and ingredients.”

Warner noted that any investment decisions will be driven by market conditions, and the group is not committed to expansion in any single agri sub-sector.

“[The additions] clearly indicate areas that we’re investigating,” he said. “They give us a chance to look at them with a real veteran eye and decide whether we want to invest in them or not.”

Warner said the new hires are indirectly related to the December recapitalisation round, saying the addition of the undisclosed amount of funding will allow the group to continue acquiring new companies.

“We have significant additional capacity now for acquisitions and to further diversify the platform. So experts like this help us make informed decisions about where we may or may not want to play,” said Warner.

Warner also noted that the recapitalisation has allowed Agspring to shift away from the model of a traditional closed-end private equity fund.

“We were very intentional in wanting to migrate away from private equity,” said Warner.

“We wanted to bring in what we would categorise as long-term private investment, because we just believe that’s very advantageous to agricultural infrastructure. This is something where you want people in for the long term, because we ourselves as commercial players are in these things for very long periods of time.”