June 1, 2016, Vancouver, British Columbia: NatureBank Asset Management Inc. (“NatureBank” or the “Company”) (TSX-V: COO, Frankfurt: 9EA) is pleased to announce that it has signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) with Anholt Services (USA) Inc. (“Anholt”), for the development and ongoing management of a portfolio of both operating cocoa projects and new, undeveloped cocoa projects in the Dominican Republic (the “Project”), through its fully owned German-based subsidiary, ForestFinest Consulting GmbH (collectively with Anholt, the “Parties”).
Anholt Services (USA) Inc. operates a philanthropic family office structure under the umbrella of the Kattegat Trust, whose holdings include international investments in land and real estate, with a significant footprint in South American agriculture. The Kattegat Trust’s sole beneficiary is the TK Foundation, established for charitable purposes by the late founder of Teekay Shipping Corp. (NYSE: TK).
Under the terms of the MOU with Anholt, NatureBank’s leading technical team of sustainable cocoa agro-forestry experts will join the capital and expertise of Anholt to develop a multi-year sustainable cocoa business in the Dominican Republic. The initial Project will include a selection of cocoa producing (“brownfield”) assets and a suite of undeveloped (“greenfield”) assets. NatureBank will be responsible for the overall design and development of the Project, including the creation of the development plan, individual project design, general agronomy oversite, genetic and variety selection, planting processes, input and fertilization regimes, harvesting procedures, and offtake agreements, as well as potential value added processing arrangements.
The Parties will work towards completing final, definitive documentation including a shareholders’ agreement governing their relationship. The definitive documentation, and the transactions contemplated by them, will be subject to approval by the TSX Venture Exchange.
“We believe there is a strong fit between the team at NatureBank and the investment interests of Anholt,” stated Robert Decosimo, Principal at Anholt Services. “We are excited about the Company’s vision for the Dominican Republic’s cacao industry as it provides a compelling opportunity for us to increase investments in attractive emerging market asset classes and geographies.”
Cocoa and the Dominican Republic
Cocoa agriculture is valued at more than $8 billion annually, yet the global cocoa supply chain is fraught with multiple economic, social and environmental challenges, presenting a difficult situation for the sector. Challenges in production include the availability of productive land, deforestation concerns, pesticide/chemical use, the availability of trained workers, child labour practices, local climate and soil conditions, access to modern and appropriate agronomy techniques, production costs, processing, transportation and export costs among others. In response to these challenges, many of the world’s leading chocolate producers have committed to sourcing only sustainably grown and managed cocoa from suppliers within the next decade.
As sustainable cocoa experts, NatureBank has focused on the Dominican Republic, a country that has long embraced sustainable cocoa production, evidenced by being the largest producer of organic cocoa in the world. It is also a leading producer of fine or flavor cocoa, which is priced at the premium end of the cocoa market. As the 8th largest cocoa country, the Dominican has a number of advantages which NatureBank and Anholt find attractive. Beyond excellent soil and weather conditions, the Dominican has a low rate of crop disease due to seasonality, while being absent of certain prevalent diseases found elsewhere. There is an availability of suitable greenfield land in the Dominican that can be developed into productive agro-forests, in an environmentally sustainable fashion, ensuring deforestation does not coincide with agriculture. The country has well developed existing infrastructure, and qualified, experienced farmers and technicians. Additionally, there is political and economic stability with solid GDP growth and an overall attractive business climate.
Together, NatureBank and Anholt will develop highly productive projects growing fine and flavor cocoa to meet the growing demand for sustainable cocoa in the international marketplace. The investment into the Project is based on more than 12 months of due diligence of the jurisdiction and project opportunities. The company will be seeking to significantly expand the amount of capital deployed into this and similar assets.
“We are very excited to be partnering with the team at Anholt for this initial project in the Dominican Republic,” commented Dirk Walterspacher, CEO of ForestFinest Consulting GmbH. “Our experience and expertise in developing sustainable cocoa, partnered with the long term vision and financial resources of Anholt, will create a strong growth platform for decades to come.”
James Tansey, Ph.D.
President and CEO
NatureBank Asset Management Inc.
About Anholt Services (USA) Inc.
Anholt Services (USA), Inc. operates in a philanthropic family office structure and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Anholt Investments, Ltd., which in turn is a wholly owned indirect subsidiary of the Kattegat Trust. The Kattegat Trust’s sole beneficiary is the TK Foundation, established for charitable purposes by the late J. Torben Karlshoej, founder of Teekay Shipping Corp. (NYSE: TK).
The Kattegat Trust’s primary holdings include direct investments in land and real estate internationally, with a heavy focus on South American and European agriculture; large equity stakes in TK (NYSE: TK) and Compass Diversified Holdings (NYSE: CODI), for which it provided all the initial sponsor capital and served as the controlling investor from 1998-2006; and a diversified portfolio of holdings in public and private equity and debt securities globally.
The team has been affiliated with the Kattegat Trust since 1998 and, in that time, has worked with the management teams of numerous dynamic small and mid-sized companies to build leading entities and generate superior risk-adjusted returns on investment. Anholt’s outlook is long-term and management friendly.
About NatureBank Asset Management Inc.
NatureBank specializes in advisory, technology and project investment services applied to sustainable commodities and ecological assets, with a primary focus on cocoa, timber and carbon. We provide our customers with a multidisciplinary approach to investing, managing risk, enhancing asset performance and securing commercial returns. While managing climate change risk, we improve livelihoods and sustainability in project regions. Through our advisory services team and our subsidiary companies, Offsetters and CO2OL, we help organizations understand, reduce and offset their climate impact. With offices in Vancouver, British Columbia; Portland, Oregon; Zurich, Switzerland and Bonn, Germany, our team has a global reach. Our team has worked with over 200 leading business organizations including Aimia, Vancity, lululemon athletica, Catalyst Paper, Harbour Air, HSE – Entega, and Shell Canada Limited. NatureBank is publicly listed company on the Toronto Venture Exchange (TSX-V:COO) and in Frankfurt:9EA. Please visit us at www.NatureBank.com.
For further information, please contact:
NatureBank Asset Management Inc.
Suite 1000 – 675 West Hastings Street,
Vancouver BC, V6B 1M8
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