Asset manager Amundi announced today it is raising a €150m private debt fund, which will invest in private bonds guaranteed by iconic Italian food products such as Parma and San Daniele ham and Parmesan cheese.
Amundi, which has more than €1.4 trillion in assets under management, is aiming to help support Italian food producers while generating returns for investors in an unusual way.
The fund will invest in bonds issued by the food businesses, where the yield and value are guaranteed by the produce, and aims to make an "attractive annual return" over six years.
“In a context in which banks remain reluctant to finance companies, given the constraints they face in terms of equity and liquidity, we have a major role to play in connecting companies with investors seeking performance and diversification in their credit portfolios,” said Amundi's head of real and alternative assets Pedro Antonio Arias.
The firm's private debt team, which already manages €5.5bn of assets, will structure and manage the fund with the help of its local teams in Italy.
It will also partner with the Italian branch of banking group Credit Agricole, which will contribute specialist sector skills and help to source deals through its strong presence in the Italian agri-food sector.
“This privileged access to Italian producers of cured ham and Parmesan cheese allows us to diversify the counterparties of bonds that we structure,” explained Pierre-Henri Carles, Amundi's head of private debt. “Each issue is backed on average by a dozen different companies.”
The firm has already run a pilot scheme to test the strategy, and has now opened the fund to institutional investors targeting a €150m total.
Amundi's real and alternative assets division currently manages €39.5bn of assets, and is aiming to reach €70bn by 2020.