Swedish pension fund AP Fonden 2 has invested $750 million to TIAA-CREF Global Agriculture II, confirming rumours that the pension was one of three foreign investors contributing to the vehicle’s $1.4 billion fundraise.
One industry leader estimates that $10 billion in institutional capital is looking for access to US farmland, but that number could easily rise as investors seek to ride out uncertain financial times by placing their money in the perceived safety of agriculture.
Farmland has become the darling of alternative investing, sending hedge funds and wealthy investors into bidding wars for plots of land once deemed ordinary. And it is not just big money getting in on the game. From Stockholm to Chicago to Vancouver, ordinary investor money is pouring into fields around the world.
Sweden’s SEK227.3bn (€26.7bn) state buffer fund Andra AP-fonden (AP2) has been accused of a lack of transparency and snapping up cheap agricultural land in Brazil by campaign group Swedwatch. AP2 denies the allegations.
A new Swedwatch report shows a lack of transparency and inadequate auditing of ethics and environmental impacts in AP2’s investment in farmland in Brazil. For business reasons, the investment is surrounded by a high level of secrecy, which makes scrutiny from the outside impossible.