At the core of Land Commodities’ success are our people. Modern farmland investing requires sophisticated knowledge in a broad range of disciplines. The background of our team in private equity, investment banking and corporate finance are a crucial complement to our agricultural management expertise. Along with our deep links to the agribusiness and rural communities in which we operate, this ensures that we are always able to identify and add value on behalf of our clients.
Since the company’s inception in late 2008, the Land Commodities’ team have successfully undertaken over 200 farmland transactions totalling approximately 150,000 hectares of land area. Although Land Commodities is a relatively young company, in combination our team have over 60 year’s asset management and private equity experience and over 40 years in senior agricultural management positions (including running some of the world’s largest commercial farms) and combined total career transactions of the team exceed €1 billion in asset value.
Our in-house team is also supplemented by strategic alliances with local agricultural professionals in the regions and sectors in which we operate. Our strategic partners include professionals at all levels of the rural economy, from members of the accounting, legal and valuation professions to agricultural management consultants, agronomists and agricultural finance and lending institutions.
In addition to the staff employed directly by our Australian subsidiary, through our joint venture partners we have ready access to a network of 23 agronomists and agricultural management consultants spread over 10 offices covering the whole of the Western Australian Wheatbelt. In combination with our core in-house team, this arrangement has worked very well for Land Commodities and its clients, giving us the benefits that come with a large organisation, but without all of the additional cost.
Although not employed by Land Commodities directly, this additional personnel resource gives us the flexibility to scale our activities and fulfil large mandates at short notice. Whilst our in-house team is sufficient to fulfil our management role, these extra personnel can be particularly useful at the acquisition and due diligence stage if we are required to buy a large number of farms in a short space of time.
Matthias Zbaeren is a licensed and regulated Swiss Asset Manager. Between 2001 and 2005 he worked as business project leader at Credit Suisse in the FX department for e-trading tools. Between 1986 and 2001 he worked with UBS AG as trader and manager in Zurich, New York and London. During 1995 and 1998 he was general manger for Citicorp Dealing Resources (EBS) for Switzerland and Southern Europe.
Gordon brings a unique set of specialist skills to his role as head of Land Commodities’ Australian operations. With a proven skill-set in business and financial analysis, farm operational management and sourcing and negotiating high quality farmland at below valuation, he ensures that Land Commodities successfully matches investor objectives with appropriate properties and management strategies.
As a senior management consultant with FARMANCO, Australia’s leading agricultural management consultant, Gordon has provided professional management consultancy to a large and progressive client base in the Northern and Central Wheat-belt regions of Western Australia. As a partner of the FARMANCO business he oversaw the development and progression of FARMANCO to its current position as Australia’s largest farm consultancy group.
Coming from a successful farming background, Gordon has a comprehensive understanding of the essential components of large scale farm management. His experience is reflected in his strong hands-on approach and broad knowledge of best practice grain and livestock production systems.
In addition to extensive management skills, Gordon has an intimate understanding of the social and personal intricacies of agriculture and its people; knowledge that any investor entering the agricultural sector will find essential in achieving stable and enduring returns.
Patrick Tobin began his agricultural management career in Africa in 1976 where he acted as a Head of Department responsible for agricultural administration and policy; management of a 263 farmer smallholder scheme growing sugarcane, cotton, maize, beans, potatoes and various horticultural crops in Swaziland.
Between 1984 and 1988 he was responsible for two irrigated sugar estates in Swaziland totalling 4,153 ha with an annual production of 450,000 tonnes of cane. He went on to manage and develop a number of other farming enterprises including a Greenfield cocoa, rubber, oil palm farm and cattle ranch in Papau New Guinea where he was responsible for developing the farm including the building of a 10 ton per day cocoa factory.
In 1991 as Managing Director for the operations of a 1,668 ha cocoa plantation in Indonesia, he developed the farm’s operations culminating in the identification of potential buyers for the enterprise and the negotiation for its sale and handover to new owners in November 1994.
He has held numerous other executive positions in the agricultural industry including Business Planning and Analytical positions for the London office of the Commonwealth Development Corporation (“CDC”), a UK quasi government fund of funds with net assets of US$4billion focusing on emerging market agriculture and infrastructure investments, where he was responsible on the agricultural side of the business for analysing the performance of existing businesses, developing and recommending business strategies and plans in Africa and Central America; evaluating proposals for expansions, acquisitions, divestments and restructuring and investigating new managed business investment opportunities.
For five years from 1998, as CEO of Mpongwe Development Company, a CDC owned investment in Zambia, he developed the agricultural enterprise into the largest privately owned arable farm in Sub-Saharan Africa with an annual turnover of US$20.8million which he sold on behalf of CDC to private equity investors in 2003.
Patrick Tobin is responsible for pre-purchase assessment of potential farmland acquisitions for Land Commodities. Patrick also provides general strategic direction with respect to general acquisition strategy. In his role as representative director on special purpose asset management vehicles he is responsible for managing relationships with strategic partners, farmers and tenants, including monitoring of performance.
For over 16 years, The Richardson Company has been dedicated to assisting niche-driven emerging and middle market companies develop, finance, and implement business strategies in the United States, Europe and Asia.
The firm also acts as advisor, asset manager, and implementation coordinator to investors making private equity investments, domestically and internationally. Transactions are brought to the firm by a broad network of unaffiliated sources in the United States, Europe and Asia, including investment bankers, lawyers, accountants, industry experts, businessmen, private equity investors, and leveraged buyout funds with whom Richardson has developed relationships over the past 25 years, as well as management teams sponsoring buyouts.
As founder and co-owner of The Richardson Company, Oliver Richardson has been in the principal investment business for over 25 years and has organized private equity transactions and realizations with an aggregate initial value in excess of $578 million. Prior to establishing The Richardson Company in 1991, Mr. Richardson was a founder member of the worldwide Management Committee of Investcorp, an international investment bank, in New York, London and the Middle East.
His initial responsibility with Investcorp was to assist in the development of its client base of private and institutional investors in the Middle East. Later, he moved to the firm’s Corporate Investment function. In this capacity, Mr. Richardson was one of the firm’s senior executives responsible for identifying, acquiring, financing, overseeing and realizing value from Investcorps’ acquisitions in North America and Europe, being responsible for numerous buy out deals including ground braking transactions such as Gucci and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Before joining Investcorp, Mr. Richardson was with the Chase Manhattan Bank in New York, Paris, Denmark, and the Middle East and with The Northern Trust Company in Chicago. His final assignments at Chase, as a Vice President included responsibility for Chase’s corporate finance and lending business with private investors and corporations, first in the Arabian Gulf and later in Denmark.
Oliver Richardson contributes his extensive experience in terms of deal structuring, financial planning and pre-acquisition due diligence as Land Commodities develops its business model moving forward. As senior director fulfilling the corporate governance and fiduciary role at the all Land Commodities’ special purpose asset management vehicles, Oliver’s office is responsible for ongoing communications with Investors, including post investment analysis and reporting.