Paine Schwartz hunts for a sustainability head

The sustainability-focused food and ag firm has nearly reached its $1.5bn target for Fund VI, with a raft of the US’s biggest institutional investors as LPs.

Paine Schwartz Partners is on the hunt for its first head of sustainability, New Private Markets has learned.

The head of sustainability will work with the firm’s investment team, portfolio managers and the firm’s own operations and business strategy. This will include incorporating sustainability issues into the firm’s due diligence for potential deals, collecting portfolio-level ESG metrics and producing annual sustainability.

Although Paine Schwartz does not bill itself as an impact fund, it has a dual purpose of generating private equity returns and investing in food and agriculture companies “aligned with ESG principles” that “deliver solutions to address the global climate challenge”, according to a spokesperson from the firm. “The ultimate goal is to produce a greater quantity of healthy food for a growing population with more efficient use of resources,” the spokesperson added.

Paine Schwartz has established itself as one of the most prominent private equity firms in the sustainable food and agriculture sector. It was one of the earliest in this space, having launched in 2006, and it is now raising its sixth flagship fund, which has a $1.5 billion target. Fund VI has raised $1.4 billion so far, according to PEI Group’s database, and a further $650 million in a co-investment vehicle.

The firm is able to accommodate large cheques from some of the biggest institutional investors. LPs in Fund VI include Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds and the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, each of which committed $150 million; the District of Columbia Retirement Board, which committed $100 million, and the Rhode Island State Treasury, which committed $15 million.

Paine Schwartz has an ESG committee chaired by chief executive Kevin Schwartz. The head of sustainability will also sit on this committee.