Harvard Management Company plans to sell an Australian farming portfolio worth $120 million, according to a report in the Australian Financial Review.
The Western Rosella Farming portfolio is located in Australia’s Lachlan Valley and covers nearly 13,652 acres of land. The portfolio is composed of resources including almond orchards, irrigated row cropping, and livestock grazing.
HMC made a similar sale in January 2020, offloading investments in a cotton farm and almond farm in New South Wales to the Boston-based Hancock Agricultural Investment Group.
HMC CEO N.P. “Narv” Narvekar announced last month that the endowment earned 7.3 percent returns in the 2020 fiscal year, reaching a value of $41.9 billion dollars. The endowment is now at its highest-ever value.
Harvard’s worldwide farmland investments have previously come under fire for their environmental impact.
On Thursday, Narvekar announced that the Company's natural resources team, which has long struggled with low returns on its investments, would “spin out” to become an independent investment firm. Narvekar suggested that the move would allow HMC to retain exposure to more desirable investments while limiting its overall exposure to natural resources.
In a 2019 financial report, Narvekar announced that HMC returned a negative 12.4 percent on its natural resources investments, compared to 6.5 percent returns on the overall endowment.
In the report, Narvekar wrote that HMC was seeking to limit its exposure to natural resources by selling “deeply troubled assets” and “good, but misaligned assets” that did not offer an appropriate risk-return-liquidity profile for the endowment.
Danny Thomas, a regional director at CBRE, a real estate company, who is overseeing the sale, said in an interview with the Australian Financial Review that the farming portfolio would be a valuable asset for investors.
“The portfolio offers an excellent agricultural offering for the region, that will be of interest to investors, both domestic and international," Thomas said.
HMC spokesperson Patrick S. McKiernan declined to comment on the sale, citing HMC’s policy not to comment on specific investments.
—Staff writer Ellen M. Burstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ellenburstein.