Stafford hires agri chief in asset class push

The firm is acting as a source of equity for new agriculture and food funds, in addition to trading fund stakes.

Stafford Capital Partners has hired Jos Boeren, former global lead capital at executive search firm Kincannon & Reed, as head of agriculture and food investments in a sign that it intends to make a serious mark in the asset class.

The news comes exactly a year after the secondaries specialist made its first investment in agriculture – a commitment to a permanent-crop fund, managed by a specialist US farmland manager, via a separate account on behalf of Switzerland’s ASGA Pensionskasse.

In a hint that segregated structures targeting agriculture could become a feature at the firm, Stafford said that, when it comes to the asset class, it “closely” collaborates with investors “to develop tailor-made investment strategies and seamlessly execute the investment mandates.”

“We start by fully understanding the investors’ investment philosophy, culture, risk-return thresholds and ESG targets,” it added.

Stafford’s agri team is further expanding with the addition of Bill Travers, a former analyst at Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets’ Paraway Pastoral Fund, who started as industry analyst in August. Existing members Bernd Schanzenbaecher, a food and agri partner, and James Allen, an investment manager, complete the team.

At Kincannon & Reed, Boeren carried out search mandates on behalf of a variety of investors, asset managers, portfolio companies and agribusinesses. He was previously head of ag M&A at Société Générale, ag and food chief at advisory firm Sherpa Millbank and a strategic planner at ag trader Bunge.

This background will surely be helpful to Stafford as it expands its footprint in agriculture, where it seems eager to look beyond the secondaries market.

In addition to buying and selling fund stakes, providing limited partners with liquidity, the firm says it is also acting as “a source of equity for new agriculture and food funds, and agribusiness and food companies looking for a capital partner,” as well as “an additional source of equity for agriculture and food managers through co-investment opportunities.”

The firm targets Australasia, Europe, Latin America and North America, and says it has “a local presence” in all these regions.

A year ago, Schanzenbaecher told sister publication Agri Investor that Stafford was “basically trying to replicate what has worked well for Stafford in timberland.”

“Agriculture is today where timberland was 10 years ago,” he added. The firm hit a final close on its eighth timberland fund in May, raising $612.5 million for secondaries and co-investments.