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Amundi targets Italian foods with €150m fund

The French asset manager has launched a debt vehicle targeting cured hams and Parmesan cheese.

Amundi is launching a €150 million fund to provide debt to producers of iconic Italian foods such as Parma ham.

The new vehicle, called Cbus after the Latin word for food, cibus, will invest in private bonds with yield and value guaranteed by stock from several producers. The bonds are secured against stores of protected Italian foods such as Parmesan cheese and San Daniele ham.

“This privileged access to Italian producers of cured ham and Parmesan cheese allows us to diversify the counterparties of bonds that we structure. Each issue is backed on average by a dozen different companies.” – Pierre-Henri Carles, head of private debt, Amundi, Italy

Prior to launching the fund, Amundi spent six months working on a pilot project with a single producer where the structure of the bond and its tax treatment were worked on until a working solution was developed.

Pierre-Henri Carles, head of private debt at Amundi, Italy, said: “We wanted to create a new and innovative product, but we needed to come up with a standardised solution. The pilot process helped us develop the bond as well as develop pipeline opportunities.”

The fund aims to provide an annual return over six years. Amundi did not disclose the returns target but said it would be equivalent with “best-in-class” private debt funds. It will aim to make a total of between 10 and 20 investments of around €10 million each, and already has six firms in its pipeline. Carles commented that he expects the fund to be deployed “really quickly”. It is targeted at the institutional investor community.

Amundi said it wants the fund to contribute to the real economy in Italy by supporting its food producers, as well as providing diversity for investors.

Structuring and management of the fund will be conducted by Amundi’s 12-strong team, which manages €5.5 billion of assets, and will draw on local expertise from its teams in Italy. It has also partnered with the Italian subsidiary of Crédit Agricole Group, which contributes sector skills and credit risk analysis and also helps with sourcing through its presence in the Italian agri-food sector.

“In addition to the contacts we have developed in the sector through our local presence, nearly 50% of our sourcing comes from Credit Agricole’s networks in Italy,” added Carles. “This privileged access to Italian producers of cured ham and Parmesan cheese allows us to diversify the counterparties of bonds that we structure. Each issue is backed on average by a dozen different companies.”