Paine & Partners makes first Australian foray

The US firm has made its first investment in Australia, backing Victoria-based fruit and vegetables producer The Costa Group.

US mid-market investor Paine & Partners has invested an undisclosed amount in Australian produce company The Costa Group. Based on a list of prior and existing investments on the firm's website, it is Paine's first investment in Australia.

According to a statement, Paine and Costa will form a newly structured private company on a 50-50 owned basis. The transaction is expected to close later this year.

Based in Victoria, Costa produces, markets and exports fresh fruit and vegetables with focuses on mushrooms, tomatoes, berries, bananas, citrus, grapes and avocados. With production, trading and logistical operations throughout Australia and internationally, the company has annual revenues exceeding A$600 million and employs more than 4,000 people.

Harry Debney, chief executive of Costa, said in the statement that the capital injection will be used to enhance the company’s investments in farming varietal research, distribution operations and warehouse technology.

The investment was made from Paine & Partners Capital Fund III, which closed on $1.2 billion in 2007. The firm’s other investments in agribusiness include global vegetable and fruit seeds producer Seminis, agronomic seed company Advanta Netherlands Holdings, and Icicle Seafoods, a producer and processor of salmon, pollock, halibut, cod, crab and other seafood products.

The firm has offices in San Francisco, Chicago and New York.