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Gimv launches €60m agriculture vehicle

Belgian private equity firm Gimv and the Agri Investment Fund (AIF) have teamed up to launch a €60m fund focused on the agricultural sector and related sectors in the Benelux and neighbouring countries.

Both firms are investing €30m each into the Gimv Agri+ Investment Fund, which will be managed by Gimv’s Life Sciences team.

There are plans to tap up third-party investors in 2010.

A 12-year fund, it will be looking to invest in green and white biotechnology, green energy, environmental technology, biotechnology in connection with veterinary medicine, services, new marketing structures and concepts, processing capacity for new crops or products, and foods for humans and animals.

It will invest between €2.5m to €10m of growth capital per deal, taking either a minority or majority stake.

AIF was created in 2007 by MRBB, the financial holding company of the Flemish farmers’ union group, Boerenbond. It invests in innovative projects contributing to the competitiveness of the agriculture and horticulture sectors within the scope of the Boerenbond. AIF’s previous investments, totalling €58m, have gone into the companies Fertikal, Thenergo, Okapi, CCF, Fugeia, Iscal, Covalis and Better3Fruit.

Piet Vanthemsche, chairman of MRBB, said: “Rising world population, increased living standards in many emerging countries and the emergence of green energy and green chemistry provide a growing demand for agricultural products. At the same time awareness is increasing of our planet’s vulnerability to climate change and the limited availability of such resources as land and water. To overcome these massive economic and ecological challenges, innovation in the agricultural sector is crucial.

“We are indeed convinced that, despite the economic crisis and the current depression in farming and horticulture, we need to play the investment card today to build tomorrow’s innovative solutions. The fund will seek to invest at least 50% of its resources in companies or projects with the potential to provide added value to the Flemish agricultural sector.”