GRAIN | 7 June 2011
The World Bank appears set to inject $30 million into a fund that buys farmland in Latin America on behalf of some of the world's wealthiest people. On June 10, 2011, the board of the World Bank's International Finance Corporation is scheduled to decide on whether to offer a critical loan to Calyx Agro Ltd that will enable the company to significantly expand its farmland holdings in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.
Robert Louis-Dreyfus, former CEO of the Louis-Dreyfus Group, died in 2009, leaving the reins over the family fortune to his widow Margarita Louis-Dreyfus.
Calyx Agro was established in Argentina by Louis Dreyfus Commodities in 2007 as a vehicle for farmland acquisition in southern Latin America. Louis Dreyfus is owned by the Louis-Dreyfus family in France and is one of the world's largest traders of agriculture commodities.
In 2008, Louis Dreyfus opened the fund to other investors. One of the first big players to come on board was AIG Investments, which made a $65 million investment in Calyx Agro that year. At the time, it was the asset management arm of insurance company American International Group (AIG). But when AIG nearly collapsed as a result of its involvement in the US sub-prime scandal, the company was forced to sell its investment arm to Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li's Pacific Century Group. AIG Investments was renamed PineBridge Investments.in 2010 and its investments in Calyx Agro were maintained.
According to a 2008 report from Brazil's Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Econômica, the other major investors in Calyx Agro are:
- TRG Management, a New York hedge fund operated by The Rohatyn Group, which was founded by ex-JPMorgan & Co. bankers in 2003 to invest in emerging markets;IFC documents indicate that IFC is considering providing Calyx Agro with a loan of up to $30 million. But the significance of IFC's involvement goes well beyond cash. The IFC says it "will be the first financier to provide Calyx long-term financing, without which the Company may have to reduce its expansion plans" and it acknowledges that its "Stamp of Approval" will help Calyx Agro if it pursues an initial public offering on a stock exchange....MORE
-Worldstar Ltd, a subsidiary of Said Holdings, which is an investment holding company, incorporated in Bermuda, that belongs to Wafic Saïd, a Syrian-Saudi businessmen living in Monaco and Paris who is a close friend of the Saudi Royal Family;
- Pictet Private Equity Investors, a private invesment company based in Switzerland; and
- Solvia Investment Management, an investment vehicle for the London-based investment fund Oslow Capital Management.