Bonderman anchors $125 mln Pontifax Agtech fund: source

  • Pontifax Agtech Fund I seeks $125 mln
  • Pontifax Agtech is part of Pontifax Group of Israel
  • Pontifax Agtech Fund I invested in Conservis

The debut fund from Pontifax Agtech, which features David Bonderman as an anchor investor, has so far raised more than $90 million, a source said.

The Santa Monica, California, growth firm is seeking $125 million for Pontifax Global Food & Agriculture Technology Fund LPaccording to a June SEC filing. Cebile Capital is the placement agent, the filing said.

Pontifax began fundraising for the pool in 2016. It expects to formally close Fund I soon, the source said.

Bonderman is co-founder of TPG Capital. Other investors of Pontifax Agtech Fund I include Tony Ressler, founder of Ares Management; media mogul Haim Saban; and Stewart Resnick, founder of Wonderful Co, according to AG Funder News.

Pontifax Agtech is one of the few growth firms to invest in agtech, which refers to the use of technology to increase the efficiency of farms. The sector has seen VC investment from firms such as Anterra Capital, Flagship Pioneering, Finistere Ventures and Omnivore Partners. Buyout shops such as KKR, Paine Schwartz Partners, TPG and Apollo Global Management have also invested.

Pontifax Agtech is part of Pontifax Group, a life-sciences-investment firm out of Israel. The growth firm is considered Pontifax Group’s first agtech and fifth-life sciences fund, the website said.

Phil Erlanger, a former senior banker with Barclays Capital and Lehman Brothers, launched Pontifax Agtech with Ben Belldegrun, co-founder of Lodestone, a natural-resource fund focused on agriculture. Erlanger and Belldegrun are Pontifax Agtech managing partners.

Within the food and agriculture sector, Pontifax Agtech focuses on life sciences, food and nutrition, information technology, precision farming and supply chain, the firm’s website said. Pontifax Agtech typically seeks to invest $10 million to $15 million equity per deal.

In 2014, Pontifax Agtech formed a warehouse facility, anchored by Bonderman, to build a portfolio prior to launching its first fund, the source said. The warehouse has invested in four companies: AgBiome, Anuvia, Blue River Technology and Caribou Biosciences.

Pontifax Agtech used its first fund to invest in its fifth portfolio company, Conservis Corp, a provider of farm-management software, the source said.

Action Item: Call Phil Erlanger at +1 424-226-7770

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