Robert has a long track record of private equity investing in agribusiness fueled by a passion for connecting institutional capital with growth opportunities throughout the agriculture supply chain. His capabilities developed over 20 years of leadership roles, first with Cargill, then J.D. Heiskell & Co. and now AMERRA. Robert's knowledge and experience working within the agribusiness sector and as a PE manager has developed his keen insights into the value and investment potential of agricultural focused businesses.
Robert is a member of the PE Investment Committee at AMERRA and enjoys all aspects of his current role from fundraising to overseeing portfolio company development. The latter begins with a foundation of C-suite leadership skills within the fund’s operating companies followed by talent selection and development. His experience is that human capital within the portfolio companies is the most important factor driving superior returns for investors.
His successful track record has led to frequent invitations to speak at industry events and he is considered a thought leader in the space. As an investor and expert in the field, Robert has developed a strong personal network that he uses to derive investment themes and source actionable investment opportunities. His sector-specific connections create an efficient and effective diligence process that ensures selection of best-in-class management teams.
Robert’s extensive background in operating companies creates a value-added edge for agribusiness focused institutional investors as he works closely with portfolio companies on both strategy and operations. He recently stepped in as both the interim- CEO and interim-CFO at Pipeline Foods to drive growth within the firm and execute an integration plan while doubling the size of the portfolio company.
Raised on large-scale grain and beef cattle farm in Indiana, he holds a BS in Animal Science from Oklahoma State University and an MBA in Finance from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of the California Ag Leadership Program (Class 36) and previously served as a Director of the National Grain and Feed Association. Robert currently serves on the Board of Directors for Pipeline Foods and Mercon Coffee Group.
Thor manages the investment process related to private equity opportunities within AMERRA. Joining AMERRA in 2015, Thor brings a wealth of experience in the international seafood and aquaculture industry including roles as senior executive, advisor, investor, and corporate and investment banker. He joined AMERRA from Neptune Partners, where he was the founding partner of this Norway-based, seafood focused investment advisor. Prior to Neptune, Thor was head of the corporate finance seafood team at Arctic Securities, a Norwegian investment bank focused on international maritime sectors. In 2009/2010, Thor was executive chairman of a successful turnaround of AquaBio Technology. Prior to AquaBio, Thor was a managing director and country manager for Landesbanki hf, responsible for the global aquaculture sector. From 2000-2005, Thor was CFO and then CEO of Fjord Marin ASA, an OTC listed aquaculture company. Thor earned his bachelors of business administration from Trondheim Business School in Norway and is a frequent speaker at industry focused investor conferences.
Thor sits on the boards of Andromeda S.A. (Greece) and Biomega AS (Norway).
Manuel sources and executes investment opportunities and provides ongoing support to portfolio companies. Hands-on experience in private equity, paired with a background in strategy & management consulting are tools he deploys to ensure success. AMERRA’s mission to transform food and agriculture towards a more sustainable system and deploy capital in an overlooked yet opportunity ripe industry resonates with Manuel.
His capability and drive were displayed when Manuel served on the team that originated and executed the acquisition of Biomega. He continues to be instrumental in supporting the Biomega management team with long-term strategic planning and execution, developing relations with key industry partners, and assisting with geographic and species diversification. Another example of Manuel’s impact was his pivotal role in the acquisition of Andromeda and execution of its buy-and-build strategy through the acquisition of Nireus and Selonda.
Through Biomega, Andromeda and the other portfolio companies, Manuel’s approach embodies AMERRA’s culture: collaborative and supportive of management teams, hands-on and in the trenches when required, and focused on creating measurable stakeholder value that lasts beyond AMERRA’s tenure.
Manuel’s value also extends internally to development of the PE team. He drives the development of investment strategies and mentors junior team members. As the team grows, he has taken on additional responsibilities of identifying, hiring and coaching talent.
Prior to joining AMERRA, Manuel was a Senior Associate at ECS, the largest Portuguese private equity fund. Manuel focused on distressed opportunities and in this capacity was responsible for all transaction aspects from screening to execution and post-closing support. He was involved in the acquisition, financial restructuring, turnaround and buildup/consolidation strategy of one of Portugal’s largest agribusinesses. He further served as board advisor in two agribusiness portfolio companies where he supported management teams with financial planning and implementing business development initiatives. Previously Manuel was a Consultant at the Boston Consulting Group where he focused mostly on food and consumer goods projects.
Manuel spent six months in Costa Rica working as a volunteer for a local microfinance institution. He supported small family coffee farmers helping organize and consolidate their processing operations to serve international markets directly and capture a greater margin of the value chain.
Manuel holds a Bachelors in Management and Finance from Nova Business School in Lisbon, Portugal and an MBA from the Columbia Business School. During his MBA Manuel interned with the investment team of J.Burke Capital Partners, Tarpon Investimentos and SFW Capital Partners. Manuel is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish.