US firm eyes Aussie crops

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The Land| 26 February 2015

Finistere was founded in 2005 by Dr Jerry Caulder, who started another plant sciences group Mycogen, which was bought by Dow Agro Sciences for $US1.2 billion in 1998.
US firm eyes Aussie crops

California-based Finistere Ventures is in Australia speaking to potential backers and scouring the market for investment opportunities, after its first close of a new $US150 million ($190 million) venture capital fund.

The Finistere II Agtech (agricultural technology) Fund has secured the backing of German giant Bayer CropScience, as well as Canadian investment firm AVAC.

The fund will target early stage businesses that develop technology for food, productivity, sustainability and nutrition, focusing on North America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Israel.

Australian-born Finistere partner Spencer Maughan is in the country meeting with family office funds and superannuation funds with venture capital mandates.

Dr Maughan graduated from University of Melbourne with a PhD in genetics in 2001.

He was formerly a vice-president at Venrock, which began as an investment vehicle of the Rockefeller family and has had big wins with early stage investments in the likes of Intel and Apple.

The first Finistere fund featured an initial investment of less than $5 million in plant sciences company Athenix, which was sold to Bayer for $400 million in 2009.

Part of the investment theory is the world will need new innovation and technology to sufficiently boost crops and yields to feed a burgeoning population.

Finistere was founded in 2005 by Dr Jerry Caulder, who started another plant sciences group Mycogen, which was bought by Dow Agro Sciences for $US1.2 billion in 1998.

Kiwi-born former Westpac executive Arama Kukutai is also a Finistere co-founder. The company generally looks to provide its investors with exits and returns within five years of an investment.
 
Original source: The Land
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