Royal London Asset Management (RLAM) has bought into a farmland portfolio as part of a £260m (€302.9m) UK farmland joint venture with South Yorkshire Pension Authority (SYPA).

RLAM, investing on behalf of Royal London Mutual Insurance Society, is acquiring 21,000 acres as part of the partnership with SYPA which owns farmlands located across Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire.

As part of the transaction, Royal London has acquired the farmland’s management company Waldersey Farms including tenanted relationships with other UK businesses, and retains management of the majority of the land.

Councillor Jayne Dunn, chair of SYPA, said: “South Yorkshire Pension Authority has curated the estate and Waldersey Farms from 400 acres over the last 40 years, establishing itself as one of the UK’s largest food producers.

“As farming moves into a new era of increased complexity, meeting the combined demands of food security, localism, biodiversity enhancement, climate change and more, we felt that the opportunity to introduce a new partner able to more actively manage the estate and fully realise its potential was in both the best interests of the holding and the longer term interest of our scheme members.”

The transaction represents RLAM’s first investment into agriculture and natural capital.

RLAM said it will seek to reduce environmental impact through innovation, technology and the use of sustainable and regenerative farming techniques whilst investigating nature-based solutions.

Mark Evans, the head of property at Royal London Asset Management, said: “Working alongside South Yorkshire Pension Authority to invest into the largest farming transaction by capital value in the UK has provided an exceptional opportunity to launch our natural capital strategy.

”It will allow us to explore market leading sustainable practices on a predominantly directly controlled estate and at meaningful scale, whilst aligning with our long-term focus as a mutual business.”

Evans added that by diversifying into this emerging institutional real asset sector, ”we show our commitment to investing in assets that will benefit future generations”.

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