BPL Pensioen and DELA joined the ASR Dutch Farmland Fund with effect from 1 October. They will be the first participants, besides a.s.r, to invest in this unlisted real estate fund of a.s.r. real estate, totalling € 310 million. The ASR Dutch Farmland Fund consists of 36,000 hectares of Dutch agricultural land worth € 1.8 billion.
The ASR Dutch Farmland Fund’s agricultural portfolio has been built up over more than a century. The fund invests in agricultural land in the Netherlands and has a strong focus on long-term value creation for agricultural businesses, investors and society. It offers institutional investors a stable return as well as a unique diversification effect.
Dick van den Oever, Fund Director of ASR Dutch Farmland Fund: ‘The fund’s ambition is to grow further and pass on agricultural land to future generations in an even better condition. Both in terms of sustainability and land mobility, we want to play a progressive role together with agricultural businesses. Based on our ‘climate-smart farming’ strategy, we work together with knowledge institutions and parties in the chain in the sector. Opening up the portfolio to institutional investors creates more room for growth. We are pleased that with BPL Pensioen and DELA, we have been able to attract like-minded and long-term partners to the fund.’
Mark Rosenberg, Chairman of BPL Pensioen’s investment committee: ‘We believe that a socially responsible investment policy helps achieve a good and affordable pension. But also, of course, a better, liveable world. Investing in the ASR Dutch Farmland Fund is perfectly in line with this policy. With this investment, we are supporting our customer base as well as the sustainability transition in our sector. After all, we are the pension fund for the green and agricultural sector.’
Frank Eizinga, Chief Investment Officer of cooperative DELA: ‘We strongly believe that achieving financial returns and contributing to our CSR objectives can go hand in hand. The returns we make remain the cooperative’s. We do not have shareholders who receive the profits. We use the profits to ensure that insurance policies retain their value and that premiums remain affordable. That is the purpose of our investments. ASR Dutch Farmland Fund fits into this idea of return and CSR objectives. In addition, it is an excellent diversification in our portfolio.’
Rewarding sustainable farmers
The pressure on the agricultural sector to become more sustainable has increased in recent years and that comes at a cost. Together with agricultural businesses, a.s.r. has for a while been taking steps to improve soil health and promote biodiversity. At the end of 2021, a.s.r. announced that it will reward farmers who are committed to sustainable business practices. a.s.r. believes that not only farmers are responsible for the transition to a sustainable agricultural sector, but that all parties in the chain must make this switch together.