Dutch insurer ASR has opened up its €1.8bn farmland fund for third-party capital, attracting commitments from BPL Pensioen and insurer DELA.

BPL, the pension fund for Dutch agriculture and horticulture sector workers, and funeral services insurer DELA have committed €310m to ASR Dutch Farmland Fund to help grow the fund.

BPL and DELA, joined the fund early last month, and are the first institutions, besides ASR to invest in the fund which currently has 36,000 hectares of Dutch agricultural land worth €1.8bn.

The ASR Dutch Farmland Fund is the largest privately owned farmland portfolio in the Netherlands, built up over 125 years. The fund targets a 4% internal rate of return. 

The fund is managed by ASR’s real estate arm which manages properties as well as agricultural land and infrastructure assets.

Dick van den Oever, fund director of ASR Dutch Farmland Fund, said: “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, said: “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, CIO of cooperative DELA, said: “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.”

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