Kristen Weldon , Cibus Capital
Kristen Weldon , Cibus Capital

BlackRock Alternatives’ former global head of sustainable investing, Kristen Weldon, has moved to Cibus Capital to launch a natural capital strategy.

Cibus is a venture and growth equity firm focused on sustainable food and agriculture. Weldon, who joins as a partner and head of natural capital, will work across Cibus’s existing portfolio on natural capital issues and launch a dedicated natural capital strategy.

The firm is currently developing a natural capital strategy and will likely come to market with it next year, Weldon told New Private Markets.

Carbon credit generation through natural sequestration projects is a returns driver that Cibus “could potentially explore” for the new strategy, said Weldon, although the firm has not explored this previously.

Cibus is already in market with the second vintages of two strategies: Cibus Fund II, its flagship growth equity strategy, has a $600 million target and received an $80 million commitment from the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association; Cibus Enterprise Fund II, a venture capital strategy, has a $200 million target and received $20 million from LACERA, PEI Group’s database shows. Weldon declined to comment on fundraising matters for these existing strategies.

There are a handful of natural capital-related assets within Cibus’s $322 million first flagship growth fund and $66 million venture fund. “I’ll spend my first hundred days contributing across the existing portfolios, getting to know the team and helping to develop the existing natural capital investments,” said Weldon.

These natural capital assets are in sectors such as permanent crop production, seedling production, contained environment farming and tree propagation. For these assets, Weldon will work on enhancing sustainable land management practices, higher carbon sequestration, improving biodiversity, improving soil health and better water management practices, she said.

Further reading: Inside the ‘wild’ farm using robots and ladybirds to drive value creation

Weldon left BlackRock in September 2023 after nearly two years as global head of sustainable investing for its alternatives division, working across private equity, private debt, real estate, infrastructure and hedge funds. “At BlackRock, I had the benefit of working across a wide set of alternatives strategies. I got to focus on sustainable investing solutions across those spaces and integrate sustainability risks and opportunities in those investment processes. But my heart was really in being an investor.”

Weldon began her career at JPMorgan, before spending 13 years at Blackstone, working on hedge funds. She pivoted her career to food tech and sustainability in 2017, launching a venture fund for the Louis Dreyfus company focused on sustainable food and agriculture – which is where she met Alastair Cooper, Cibus’s head of venture. Of this time at Louis Dreyfus, Weldon said: “I loved the entrepreneurs in this space. It’s a really collaborative ecosystem and I knew that that was a places I wanted to stay in. I wanted invest to make a difference across the natural capital space.”

She then joined Partners Capital for an eight-month stint in 2021 as head of ESG and impact investing.