David Del Curto: Majority stake in exporter sold to investment group

U.S. investment group buys majority stake in Chilean fruit exporter David Del Curto

U.S. investment group Hancock Natural Resource Group (HNRG) has acquired a majority stake in leading Chilean fruit company David Del Curto (DDC).

HNRG, a company of Canada-headquartered Manulife Investment Management, said the acquisition helps to diversify its growing agricultural portfolio through its strategic initiative Farmland Plus. 

David Del Curto, S.A. is a leading Chilean fruit production, packing and export company, which produces over ten different fruit types across eleven farms, while also managing one of the largest nurseries in the country.

It also operates three packing facilities with a capacity of nine million boxes of fruit. DDC will continue to be led by Fernando Cisternas, the current CEO, and the management team, who will oversee day-to-day operations and key strategic growth projects.

"David Del Curto is a well-respected firm with more than 65 years of success in fruit production and extensive sales relationships throughout AsiaEuropeNorth America and the Middle East," said Stephen J. Blewitt, global head of private markets, Manulife Investment Management.

"The acquisition strengthens and diversifies our existing portfolio as DDC is in a solid position; both currently with market-leading characteristics and for the future with state-of-the-art farmland facilities and opportunity for additional strategic growth."

"The acquisition of DDC opens a new market for our agricultural clients. Both the company's track record and Chile's reputation in the global agricultural markets make this an attractive agricultural investment," added Oliver S. Williams, CFA, global head of agricultural investments, HNRG.

The acquisition will also benefit from maintaining a connection to the previous ownership, according to a release from Manulife Investment Management. The Corso Group (TCG), the investment unit of the Cortes Solari family office, acquired an ownership stake of DDC in 2005 and in this transaction will maintain a minority stake in the firm.

TCG's experience in managing through Chile's agricultural cycle and the overall continuity in management expertise will have both tangible and intangible impact on the future success of the company.

"We are very excited to work on the ownership transition with the strong DDC management team that is already in place and value The Corso Group's continuing partnership," said William E. Peressini, CEO, HNRG.

"We will also work closely with the existing teams on land stewardship which we anticipate will include redeveloping existing orchards and developing those orchards that have not been under cultivation.

"Through these efforts we will look to expand DDC's production, as well as enhance existing and new marketing partnerships, to create additional opportunity."

Manulife Investment Management highlighted that Chile benefits from its geographic location and climate, allowing for high-value crop production. Because it is located in the Southern Hemisphere, it harvests and markets crops around the world at a time when Northern Hemisphere supplies are low.

DDC currently packs and markets fruit for approximately 90 third-party growers as well as fruit from its own farms. In the 2018-19 marketing year, DDC accounted for 1.70% of Chilean fruit volume.

Fernando Cisternas, CEO, DDC, said: "By joining the Manulife Investment Management and HNRG team, we are able to rely on their extensive agricultural experience to expand our operations and further the reach of the firm. We feel the acquisition will bring tremendous additional resources to our teams and partners."