Royal London Asset Management acquires one of the largest collections of prime UK farmland

Royal London | 26 March 2024

Royal London Asset Management acquires one of the largest collections of prime UK farmland

At 21,000 acres and £260m, Royal London Asset Management has completed a rare opportunity to invest in quality and at meaningful scale in a joint venture with South Yorkshire Pension Authority (SYPA).

Royal London Asset Management, on behalf of Royal London, today announces it has acquired 21,000 acres of prime farmland in a £260m joint venture with South Yorkshire Pension Authority (SYPA). The acquisition marks the first investment by Royal London Asset Management into agriculture and natural capital.

Located across Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, the farmland represents a highly versatile and diverse portfolio with the potential to increase agricultural output and productivity whilst seeking to employ new environmental strategies. The farm’s management company, Waldersey Farms, has been acquired alongside tenanted relationships with other UK businesses, and retains management of the majority of the land.

Royal London Asset Management will seek to reduce environmental impact via innovation, technology and the use of sustainable and regenerative farming techniques whilst investigating nature-based solutions. Activities may include increasing soil organic matter, lowland peatland restoration, hedgerow afforestation, habitat banking, storage and filtration schemes for improved water quality and renewables.

There is future scope to become a key stakeholder in debates on key issues such as food, carbon, and biodiversity provenance, as well as enhancing nutritional quality.

Through lower-carbon agricultural practices this major acquisition can, in time, contribute to Royal London Asset Management’s commitment towards net zero goals. The acquisition aligns with the company’s forward-thinking approach and futureproofing of its wider assets through sustainable investment.

Mark Evans, Head of Property at Royal London Asset Management said:

"Working alongside South Yorkshire Pension Authority to invest into the largest farming transaction by capital value in the UK has provided an exceptional opportunity to launch our natural capital strategy. It will allow us to explore market leading sustainable practices on a predominantly directly controlled estate and at meaningful scale, whilst aligning with our long-term focus as a mutual business.

"The balance between human and environmental health derived from agriculture will become increasingly relevant and the opportunity to be active investors in this partnership enables us to have more influence over the operations and better engagement with communities, while testing alternative routes to add value.

"At Royal London Asset Management Property, we are constantly seeking assets that are resilient to future uncertainties. By diversifying into this emerging institutional real asset sector, we show our commitment to investing in assets that will benefit future generations.

"Royal London Asset Management is passionate about responsible investment. We’re supporting our Group Purpose of 'Protecting today, investing in tomorrow. Together we are mutually responsible'."

Cllr Jayne Dunn, Chair of SYPA, added:

"South Yorkshire Pension Authority has curated the estate and Waldersey Farms from 400 acres over the last 40 years, establishing itself as one of the UK’s largest food producers. As farming moves into a new era of increased complexity, meeting the combined demands of food security, localism, biodiversity enhancement, climate change and more, we felt that the opportunity to introduce a new partner able to more actively manage the estate and fully realise its potential was in both the best interests of the holding and the longer term interest of our scheme members."

Royal London Asset Management was advised by Addleshaw Goddard, Savills and Deloitte.

SYPA was advised by Eversheds Sutherland, PWC and Bidwells.
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