Stafford Capital expands into agriculture secondaries

The investment management and advisory firm is making secondaries fund purchases in agriculture as part of its entry into the sector.

Stafford Capital Partners, which invests in timberland and infrastructure secondaries, has added agriculture to its global investment strategy amid growth in the sector.

London-based Stafford will work with Swiss environmental investment firm EBG Capital to make agriculture investments, according to a statement released by Stafford on Tuesday. The firm’s investment strategy involves fund of funds investments and includes purchasing agriculture fund stakes on the secondaries market, as well as co-investments and primary fund commitments, according to its website.

“We have been following the developments in the agriculture market for some years, and have decided that now is the right time to offer institutions the opportunity to invest in a low-risk, well-diversified portfolio of agriculture assets,” Angus Whiteley, Stafford group chief executive, said in the statement. “Our experiences of sourcing secondary fund investments, and making co-investments alongside the top tier managers we support are key elements of delivering this solution.”

Stafford will focus on Australasian, North American and Latin American agriculture investments, targeting a portfolio of row crops, permanent crops, dairy and beef opportunities.

Until now, Stafford’s secondaries investments have included timberland and infrastructure secondaries funds. In May, the firm held a final close on Stafford International Timberland VII, its fund of funds focused on existing timberland funds, on $484 million, exceeding its target of $400 million. The firm has also been active in infrastructure secondaries, announcing in July it would advise a consortium of Swiss pension funds on 120 million Swiss francs’ worth of investment ($126.9 million; €115.03 million).

Agriculture has a low correlation with other asset classes and its returns are based on biological growth, which is attractive as an investment strategy, the firm said in the statement.

It wasn’t clear in the statement if Stafford had launched a new fund as part of the strategy. Stafford and EBG weren’t immediately available for comment.

Stafford Capital Partners, which provides advisory services on alternative assets, had $4.5 billion under management as of 31 December and a 35-member team across seven offices worldwide.