Origin Capital - New Zealand's first private equity fund aimed at investing in the kiwifruit sector - has already started investing, having just raised $69 million in its first fundraising round.
The fund, set up by a group of past and present Zespri insiders, aims to raise up to $100m to buy existing kiwifruit orchards, or to build new ones, focusing exclusively on the Sungold variety.
Origin Capital expects the second round to be complete by the end of May.
About 60 per cent of Origin Capital Partners' portfolio will be weighted towards the Bay of Plenty.
The fund's partners are:
• Paul Jones, deputy chairman of Zespri and founder and managing director of the post-harvest packhouse DMS Progrower
• Craig Greenlees, co-founder and managing director of DMS, who is a former Zespri board member and chairman
• Lain Jager, a former Zespri chief executive
• Investment banker and DMS director Dominic Jones
Both Paul Jones and Greenlees are substantial orchard owners in their own right.
Dominic Jones, Paul Jones' son, told the Herald Origin Capital had raised $69m - well over the $50m initially sought - in the first funding round.
The fund had already invested $15m on four properties - two existing orchards and two bare land properties.
"Now that we have closed the fund, we are back in the market looking for more," Jones said. The round attracted 133 mostly private investors.
"We are thrilled with the way that it has gone. From day one we are deploying 23 per cent of what we have raised but we are open for further investment," he said.
"I suspect that there is a bit of a feel-good factor investing in NZ Inc fresh produce - stuff that the world wants, in a post-Covid world," he said.
Origin is chaired by Simon Botherway, the co-founder of the former Brook Asset Management, who also serves on the board of NZX-listed Serko.
Dominic Jones said the industry is characterised by high cashflow yields from land assets.
He said the fund would also look at buying "green" orchards for conversion to gold.
The fund, which is aimed at wholesale investors, will initially aim to acquire 10 to 15 assets. The minimum investment is $100,000.
Jones said Origin sought to plug what the partners saw as a gap in the market, adding agriculture and horticulture are not easy places to invest without the necessary expertise.