Our Agriculture Strategy is dedicated to building a diversified global portfolio of assets, primarily farmland, generating stable, attractive returns over the long-term for investors. We invest in agricultural land and rural producing assets primarily in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, focusing on high-quality farmland with a history of production and resilience through economic and commodity cycles. We seek to create unique, long-lasting partnerships with best-in-class local operators and invest primarily in the sectors of row crops, animal protein (dairy, beef, sheep), permanent crops and related rural sectors.
Our highly experienced agriculture team has previously acquired close to 5 million acres of land globally while generating a leading track record of returns. The founding team has worked together for more than 10 years, including at one of Canada’s largest pension plans, where they founded and led the Natural Resources group, which at the time of their departure was one of the largest investors in the sector globally.
The team has developed a robust due diligence process, large deal pipeline, and extensive global network of reputable operators. Fiera Comox has a deep understanding of an assets’ positioning on the global cost curve and the implications on risk and volatility. Its diversified sector and geographic expertise allows the team to best allocate capital to different agricultural sectors and regions to target superior risk-adjusted returns in various market environment.
- High-quality, land-centric farming assets, providing a core risk exposure to the asset class. Selection of assets with a production history in markets with strong supply and demand fundamentals that are well positioned to generate cash yield and capital appreciation
- Own-and-operate model with value add opportunities, providing access to cash yield, capital appreciations and alpha through active roll-up strategy and land improvement initiatives
- Partnership approach which aligns interests and attracts the best operating partners in the world, thus increasing the depth of operating expertise while expanding deal sourcing and growth capabilities through the development of investment platforms. Entrepreneurial model promoting global sharing of best agricultural practices, combining operational and private equity diligence and discipline.
- Geographical and sectoral diversification allows the diversification of idiosyncratic risk and to allocate capital toward globally competitive assets that have historically been best positioned to deliver strong returns across commodity cycles
- Strong ESG considerations by promoting a ESG-driven culture across our platforms and investment screening and underwriting process
Global and Sectoral
Strong ESG considerations
Since inception, Fiera Comox’s Global Agriculture Fund has invested in 6 investment platforms across 3 targeted countries and 4 sub-sectors. This provides current and prospective investors with a balanced exposure to the asset class and diversification benefits, with an exposure to over 150,000 acres of farmland producing over 10 different agricultural commodities in 8 climate regions. Fiera Comox is continually evaluating new investment opportunities to complement its current portfolio.
Apples and Cherries
- Permanent Crops (Apples and Cherries)
- 2,800 producing acres
- Partnership with one of the most reputable tree fruit growers in the world
- Vertically integrated producer of high-quality apples and cherries serving domestic and export markets
- Sophisticated orchard operation with modern, high-density, trellis technologies
- Traditional and premium varieties
- US (California)
- Permanent Crops (Almonds)
- 4,000 contiguous acres
- One of the world’s largest contiguous almond orchards
- Located in Northern Central Valley of California
- Management team has an in-depth almond development and management expertise acquired over the last 20 years
Cotton and Grain Farming
- Australia (Queensland)
- Row Crops (Cotton and Grains)
- 90,000 acres, 30,000 irrigated acres
- Institutional-grade agricultural enterprise producing cotton and grains in Queensland, Australia
- Two farming properties, with cotton primarily irrigated through bankless channels
- Management has an extensive background in broadacre farming and land development work
Maple Syrup Producer
- US (Vermont)
- Related Rural (Maple Syrup)
- 18,000 acres of forestland
- Largest single producer of organic maple syrup in the world based in Vermont
- Sub-regionally diversified network of close to 500,000 taps across 18,000 acres of land
- Vertically integrated operations from the trees to the stores through private label programs and branded products
- Australia (Victoria)
- Row Crops (Grains, Oil Seeds, Pulses), Animal Protein (Sheep)
- 19,000 arable acres in two farming districts
- New Zealand (Canterbury and Otago)
- Animal Protein (Dairy Farming)
- 12,000 irrigated acres
- Leading low-cost, highly efficient New Zealand dairy farming operation
- Largely contiguous portfolio of 12 irrigated dairy properties with a herd of 17,000 dairy cattle
- Partnership with one of the most experienced and reputable management teams in the dairy industry
- 8 climate
- 150,000 acres of
- 10 different
Agriculture as an Asset Class
Farmland as an asset class has historically offered the following benefits:
- Portfolio Diversification – Farmland exhibits negative/low correlation with traditional asset classes and alternative asset classes
- Principal asset is land (60 to 90%)
- Reliable store of value during market downturn
- Largely protected industry due to food security
- Strong Risk-adjusted returns – High Sharpe ratio over the last 20 years
- Inflation hedge
- Positive long-term secular trends: population growth; rising incomes and urbanization in developing countries as well as westernization of diets leads to increased demand for farmland while there is a decline in arable land per person
- Attractive Cash Yield from crop production
Fiera Comox targets geographies with a favourable farmland investment environment and sectors which have a relatively high proportion of the value of the investment tied to land that can offer value creation opportunities through land improvement or real options, scalability and consolidation opportunities. Fiera Comox believes that its diversified strategy is unique and can provide attractive risk-adjusted returns.
|1||United States||Up to 50%|
|2||Canada||Up to 30%|
|3||Australia||Up to 50%|
|4||New Zealand||Up to 40%|
|5||Rest of World||Up to 30%|
|1||Row Crops||Up to 50%|
|2||Animal Protein||Up to 40%|
|3||Permanent Crops||Up to 50%|
|4||Related Rural||Up to 40%|
Antoine Bisson McLernon MBA, BCom, CFA
Antoine Bisson McLernon is Partner and Chief Executive Officer at Fiera Comox.
He chairs the firm’s Investment Committee and oversees its three strategies: Agriculture, Private Equity and Private Credit. Prior to establishing Fiera Comox in 2016, Antoine spent seven years with PSP Investments, where he last was Managing Director and head of Private Equity for the Americas and Asia. He ran both direct and fund investments, oversaw a $11.0 billion portfolio and a team of 25 people. In 2011, he started PSP Investments’ global Natural Resources group and led the group for five years, building a $3.0 billion portfolio of direct investments. Under his leadership, the group acquired over 2 million acres of timberland and farmland. During this period, Natural Resources was the top performing asset class at PSP. Antoine was a member of PSP Investments’ firm‑wide Investment Committee from 2011 until he left PSP Investments in July 2016.
Before joining PSP Investments in 2009, Antoine worked in private equity at Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and in investment banking at National Bank of Canada. He currently sits on the boards of directors of Auvil Fruit Company (US), Golden Pear Funding (US), Rangitata Dairies (New Zealand), and Lassen Land Company (US). He has previously sat on the boards of directors of Telesat (Canada), AmWins Group Inc. (US), Haymarket Financial LLP (UK), TimberWest Forest Corp.(Canada), Kaingaroa Timberlands (New Zealand), YBY Agro (Brazil) and X2 Resources (UK). Antoine received a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Commerce (Great Distinction) from McGill University and is a CFA charterholder.
Matthew Corbett MBA, BSc
Matthew Corbett is Partner, Agriculture at Fiera Comox.
Prior to Fiera Comox, Matthew spent over five years with PSP Investments where he was a founding member of PSP’s global Natural Resources investment group. Matthew undertook nearly $2 billion of direct investments in timber and agriculture. Notable transactions include the acquisition of a majority interest in Kaingaroa Timberlands (New Zealand), the creation of the Hewitt Cattle joint venture (Australia), as well as the creation of row crop and dairy platforms.
Prior to PSP, Matthew worked in a senior role for a forestry company for six years, was a member of the Canadian Armed Reserve Forces, and held operational roles in farming enterprises in Canada. Matthew’s family background is in dairy farming and he spent his early years working on farms across eastern Ontario. Matthew received an MBA from McGill University and a BSc from Queen’s University.
Frédéric Despars MBA, LL.L, LL.B, B.B.A.
Frédéric Despars is Partner and Chief Operating Officer at Fiera Comox.
Prior to Fiera Comox, Frédéric spent six years with PSP Investments where he last was Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer overseeing a team of 35 people. Prior to his nomination as CLO, Frédéric led a team of transactional lawyers advising PSP’s natural resources, private equity, private debt, and infrastructure asset classes representing $24 billion of net assets. During his six years at PSP, Frédéric was directly involved with some of PSP’s most significant transactions, including leading the deal structuring and execution of the acquisition of a 50% interest in TimberWest ForestCorp. (Canada), the acquisition of a majority interest in Kaingaroa Timberlands (New Zealand) and the take private of Charter Hall Office REIT (Australia). Frédéric sat on the Boards of TimberWest Forest Corp. (Canada) and YBY Agro (Brazil).
Before joining PSP, Frédéric occupied the top legal position for a Montreal-based pharmaceutical company and held senior legal positions within the Quebecor group of companies. He started his career in private practice with Fasken Martineau (Montreal) and Clifford Chance (Paris). In 2005, he was recognized as one of Canada’s “Top 40 under 40” in-house counsel by Lexpert and the National Post. Over the years, Frédéric worked on transactions in more than twelve countries, including setting up joint ventures in the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Italy and Egypt.
Frédéric holds an MBA from Laval University, law degrees in civil and common law from Ottawa University and a B.B.A. from HEC Montréal.
Sarah Gal University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, B.Sc.College of Agriculture
Sarah has over a decade of experience in the institutional and direct agriculture industry. Prior to Fiera Comox, Sarah held senior consulting roles at both Callan and Aon Hewitt. Most recently, Sarah was a Senior Vice President, Real Assets at Callan, a leading institutional investment consulting firm, where she was responsible for the firm’s farmland investment research. In this role, she also worked with clients on real assets strategic planning, investment research, and asset class education.
In addition to her institutional experience in farmland, Sarah has direct agriculture experience having managed a large dairy heifer growing operation for a dairy and cropping farm in Wisconsin.
Sarah holds a Bachelor of Science, College of Agriculture with a concentration in Food Animal Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Bob Saul MPP, B.A.
Bob Saul is Senior Advisor, Agriculture at Fiera Comox.
Bob has more than twenty years of direct investment experience in the agriculture and forestry asset class in the United States and Central America where he has been responsible for more than US$3 billion in land based transactions.
Prior to Fiera Comox, Bob was a Partner and founder at Grantham, Mayo, and van Otterloo’s Renewable Resources from 1997 to 2013. During this period, he built a 2.4 million-acre portfolio that included softwood and hardwood timberland, a wetland mitigation bank, row crop farmland, and processing infrastructure. The majority of these acres (1.6 million) were sold between 2006 and 2012. After 16 years at GMO, Bob joined Wood Creek Capital/Barings in early 2013 where he led agriculture investments, and over the next four and half years, assembled a US$600 million, 300,000 acre, agricultural and timber portfolio. This portfolio included three new operating platforms in citrus, maple syrup production, and ranchland to row-crop land conversion. The portfolio has also funded the expansion of existing operating platforms in row-crop farmland, water, teak, sorghum seed, and northern Appalachian hardwoods.
Bob has owned and managed his own 220-acre farm in Amherst, Massachusetts for 27 years. He is a graduate of Amherst College (B.A. English 1981) and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government (MPP, 1985).
Jean-Pierre Sicotte M.Sc., B.B.A.
Jean-Pierre Sicotte is Senior Associate, Agriculture at Fiera Comox.
Prior to joining Fiera Comox, Jean-Pierre worked in investment banking at DNA Capital where he was involved in a number of public and private M&A transactions. Prior to that, he worked in the Transaction Advisory Services group at Richter. He also founded and operated an entrepreneurial business for four years.
Jean-Pierre holds an M.Sc. in Finance from Université de Sherbrooke and a B.B.A. in Finance from HEC Montréal.
David Fortier MBA, B.A.A.
David Fortier is an Associate, Agriculture at Fiera Comox.
Prior to joining Fiera Comox, Mr. Fortier worked at Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (“CDPQ”) in the private equity team where he participated in several international transactions. Prior to that, he worked in real estate financing and treasury at Ivanhoé Cambridge, the real estate subsidiary of CDPQ, and as a securities broker at National Bank of Canada.
David holds an MBA from Laval University and a B.B.A. (Finance) from HEC Montréal.
Mathieu Brillon M.Fin, B.B.A.
Mathieu Brillon is an Analyst, Agriculture at Fiera Comox.
Prior to joining Fiera Comox, Mathieu worked at PSP Investments in the real estate investments team where he was involved in a number of international transactions across real estate sectors. Prior to that, he worked in the emerging markets team at Ivanhoé Cambridge, the real estate investment arm of CDPQ, and at the Fonds de Solidarité FTQ.
Mathieu holds a Master’s degree in Finance from McGill University and an Honours B.B.A. (Finance) from HEC Montréal.
Max William Dunberry
Max William Dunberry is an Analyst at Fiera Comox for the Private Credit, Agriculture and Private Equity Strategies. Prior to joining Fiera Comox, Max worked in the strategic partnership group of CDPQ where he analyzed multiple strategies across different asset classes in order to source investment opportunities for CDPQ’s Private Credit, Private Equity and Infrastructure’s investment teams. He previously also worked at Deloitte and BMO Financial Group.
Max holds a BBA from HEC (with high distinction).
Michel Piette CFA
Michel Piette is a member of the Institutional Markets team and is responsible for client servicing and business development for institutional clients for private investment strategies.
Michel has 19 years of industry experience. Prior experiences include various positions as analyst and portfolio manager within investment management firms in the United Kingdom. Additionally, he held various business development roles within Deutsche Bank AG, based in London (UK). Prior to joining Fiera Capital, Michel was in charge of business development for Mercer’s Outsourced Chief Investment Officer and alternatives solutions in Montreal.
Michel graduated from University Laval with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), majoring in Finance. He also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation.
Vince Morello CPA, CA
Vince Morello is Vice President, Finance and Administration at Fiera Comox.
Vince is responsible for leading the firm’s Finance function, which includes the management of the financial accounting, performance, valuation, treasury, taxation and budgeting functions.
Vince has more than 25 years of experience in the fields of finance and accounting. Prior to joining Fiera Comox, Vince spent the last 9 years in asset management and was Corporate Controller at PSP Investments. Prior to that, he held management positions in publicly traded companies operating in the construction materials and services, information technology, and manufacturing sectors.
Vince holds a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce and a Graduate Diploma in Public Accountancy from Concordia University as well as the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA) designation.
Anna Tran CPA, CA
In her role as Corporate Controller, Anna oversees the financial accounting and reporting of investments and investment-related activities. Prior to joining Fiera Comox, Anna spent the last 10 years in asset management, as Manager of Corporate Finance at PSP Investments and as Head of Operations for Private Equity and Infrastructure at CDPQ.
She holds a Bachelor’s degree in commerce and a graduate diploma in accountancy from Montreal’s HEC, as well as the CPA, CA designation.
Matteo Pisano CPA Auditor
Matteo Pisano is a Senior Accountant at Fiera Comox.
Matteo is responsible for supporting the firm’s financial accounting and reporting functions, as well as overseeing the investor reporting activities, for the Agriculture, Private Equity and Private Credit investment strategies.
Prior to joining Fiera Comox, Matteo worked as a Senior Auditor at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP where he led external audits across an array of large international public and private clients operating primarily in the Asset & Wealth Management, Pension, and Real Estate sectors. He previously also worked at Concordia University as Senior Tutorial Instructor for courses in Canadian Taxation, Financial Reporting and Analysis of Markets.
Matteo holds the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA auditor) designation. He earned his Bachelor of Commerce (with Distinction) and his Graduate Diploma in Chartered Professional Accountancy at Concordia University, where he graduated as Valedictorian of his 2017 cohort.