Old Mutual Investment Group has announced a deal to increase its overall effective equity stake in African agriculture investment group, UFF African Agri Investments, to 49%. The partnership will see the strengthening of a longtime relationship between the two companies, with investment opportunities of up to $500 million into African farmland envisaged over the next three years.
UFF African Agri Investments has specialist expertise, with a dedicated focus on investments in the Agri sector in Africa. The Group has long been a fund advisor to Old Mutual Investment Group through its Futuregrowth Agri and Old Mutual Agri Funds.
According to Diane Radley, CEO of Old Mutual Investment Group, this formal partnership was a natural progression for the two organisations. “As the largest manager of real assets in Africa, we have a deep belief in the opportunities in agricultural investing across the African continent. Agriculture as an asset class has already gained huge momentum globally, but is still in its infancy in Africa. This presents a significant investment opportunity for both local and international investors,” she explains.
“Increasing populations across the continent will lead to a significant demand for agricultural produce, with a 70 percent total increase in agriculture production needed to feed the more than nine billion people expected to inhabit the earth in 2050, of which 25 percent will be in Africa.”
In addition, Radley points out that UFF’s Responsible Investment model speaks to the heart of Old Mutual Investment Group’s own ethos when it comes to this space.
“The UFF and Old Mutual partnership is a signatory to the Principles of Responsible Investments in farmland. All farms are assessed and monitored on compliance to International Finance Corporations standards on environmental, social and governance standards encompassing standards set by the International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations (UN), World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and local legislation,” she explains.
In addition, on the farms in the portfolio, the funds implement a comprehensive education, healthcare and/or housing programmes for farm workers. ”UFF has an innovative and unique way to affect positive change. 6% of rental revenues is invested in social economic projects providing education, housing and healthcare,” she says.
Duncan Vink, co-founder of UFF adds his thoughts on the suitable fit of the partnership. “We couldn’t have chosen a better company to partner with than the Old Mutual Investment Group, an organisation that is fully aligned with our vision of the significant opportunities that African agricultural investing present, together with making a positive change on the continent,” he says. “We are looking forward to further compounding an already strong and fruitful relationship and believe that this transaction will drive the future growth of each organisation as well as the broader African continent.
“Agriculture is a vital economic driver in Africa given a number of socio-economic factors, including population growth, poverty and unemployment. These factors present acute challenges and make unlocking our agricultural potential not just an attractive option, but a necessity,” says Vink.
Radley concludes that ultimately it is about investing in Africa for Africa. “The UFF team offers unparalleled experience in the arena of African agri-investing, an invaluable addition to our alternative assets growth strategy, which seeks to expand our investment business into the rest of Africa.”