American Farmland Company (NYSE MKT:AFCO) (the “Company”) announced late last week (i) that it had entered into three binding purchase and sale agreements to acquire farms for an aggregate of $65 million and (ii) the hiring of Andreas Spitzer, to serve initially as Executive Vice President, Finance, and to transition to Chief Financial Officer.
Thomas S.T. Gimbel, Chief Executive Officer of the Company, remarked: “Either of these events alone would be a significant accomplishment, and to announce both in the span of one week underscores our goal to grow AFCO strategically, opportunistically and methodically into a major diversified publicly traded farmland REIT.”
Substantial, Accretive Acquisition
On December 17, 2015, subsidiaries of the Company (the “Buyers”) entered into three binding purchase and sale agreements with Sun Dial Farms, LLC and affiliates (the “Sellers”) to buy seven mature permanent crop farmland properties aggregating to 2,186 gross acres and 1,729 net plantable acres for a combined gross purchase price of $65 million, which the Company intends to pay out of cash on hand and borrowings. The farms are located across multiple counties in California, each with its own well(s) and surface water. Crops planted include almonds, lemons, and several other citrus varieties as well as prunes. The acquisitions are scheduled to close in January 2016, subject to the satisfaction of due diligence and certain customary closing conditions, and are expected to be accretive to Funds from Operations. The Company will lease the properties to the Sellers. The leases will provide for both a fixed base rent, as well as a formulaic revenue participation above a fixed threshold, and the base rent and thresholds will have annual escalators.
The Company has previously disclosed the strength and quality of its acquisition pipeline as well as its focus on a disciplined and opportunistic acquisition strategy. Robert Cowan, the Company’s President and Chief Investment Officer, who has more than 30 years of experience in farmland property analysis, investment, acquisition and management, commented: “This is a portfolio of gems, and it is rare to have such an extraordinary opportunity to acquire a diversified portfolio of almonds and fresh citrus of this scale and quality at one time.”
Financial Executive Hire
On December 11, 2015, the board of directors of the Company appointed Andreas Spitzer, age 45, to serve as the Company’s Executive Vice President, Finance, effective January 11, 2016. Further, Mr. Spitzer will transition to, and serve as the Company’s Chief Financial Officer during 2016. Currently and until Mr. Spitzer’s transition to Chief Financial Officer, Geoffrey M. Lewis has been and will continue to be the Company’s Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, positions he has held since the Company’s inception in 2009. He will remain as an executive officer and director of the Company following Mr. Spitzer’s transition to Chief Financial Officer.
Mr. Gimbel, Chief Executive Officer of the Company, remarked “We welcome Andreas and know he will be valuable to our strategy of generating income as we continue to grow. Mr. Lewis was foundational to the Company, having helped build it since inception, and he will remain a core member of the executive management team.” The Company previously disclosed its goal of hiring full-time dedicated senior-level financial and accounting personnel.
Mr. Spitzer has more than 20 years of experience from roles in financial management, investment banking and public accounting. He currently serves as Vice President, Finance for Equity One, Inc. (NYSE:EQY), a public real estate investment trust company that owns, manages, acquires, develops and redevelops shopping centers, a position which he has held since 2013, and a position wherein he leads the company’s financial planning and analysis and treasury functions and provides support to the company’s investor relations and capital markets activities. Mr. Spitzer received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business, Accounting, Magna Cum Laude, from Virginia Tech, and he received a Master of Business Administration with Distinction in Finance from the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University.
About American Farmland Company
American Farmland Company is an internally managed real estate investment trust and a Maryland corporation focused on owning and acquiring a diversified portfolio of high-quality farmland, consisting of mature permanent, specialty/vegetable row and commodity row crop farms, as well as farmland development projects, located in select major agricultural regions throughout the United States. The Company’s portfolio currently consists of 18 farms located on both coasts as well as in the Corn Belt and the Delta regions and consists of approximately 16,136 gross acres of farmland, with more than 21 major crop types (approximately 40 sub-varieties are included).
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws. We caution investors that forward-looking statements are based on management’s beliefs and on assumptions made by, and information currently available to, management. When used, the words “anticipate”, “believe”, “estimate”, “expect”, “intend”, “may”, “might”, “plan”, “will”, “result”, and similar expressions which do not relate solely to historical matters are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These statements are subject to risks, uncertainties, and assumptions and are not guarantees of future performance, which may be affected by known and unknown risks, trends, uncertainties, and factors that are beyond our control, including, without limitation, the Company’s and Buyers’ ability to satisfy closing conditions to the transactions described above, obtain financing, as well as the performance of their obligations under the purchase and sale agreements and other risks and uncertainties detailed from time to time in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those anticipated, estimated, or projected. We expressly disclaim any responsibility to update our forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.
Lindsey Sichel Rubinstein, 212-484-3056
Chief Administrative Officer, Chief Marketing Officer & Executive Vice President