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Penningtons Manches Cooper advises Cibus Fund II on its acquisition of leading UK cell-grown tree producer Alba Trees

Posted: 27/02/2023

The corporate team at Penningtons Manches Cooper has advised Cibus Fund II (Cibus), the specialist sustainable food and agriculture fund, on the successful acquisition of Alba Trees Limited.

Cibus is a sustainable food and agriculture firm based in London. Founded in 2016, it advises on investments by the Cibus funds into new and innovative companies that are well-positioned to benefit from the transition of the food and agriculture value chain to a new, sustainable model.

Cibus has raised over USD $1 billion to date, advising on growth and buyout investments in mid-market food production and processing businesses, and late-stage venture agrifood tech companies disrupting the food value chain in Europe, USA and other OECD countries.

Alba Trees is a UK market leader in the production and supply of cell-grown plants for sustainable forestry, native woodland, and hedgerows, and supplies around 20 million trees for planting each year into the UK forestry market. 

Cibus and Alba Trees will expand existing production while focusing on best in class agronomy and precision technology to prioritise plant health, product quality and resource efficiency. As a specialist in agtech and controlled environment agriculture, Cibus will leverage synergies with other companies within its existing portfolio.

A core focus for Cibus is environmental sustainability and ensuring it is addressed at every level of the supply chain. This aim is shared with Alba Trees and will be at the centre of the company’s future growth plans, aligning with the UK government’s ambitions to plant nearly a million hectares of new woodland, in order to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  

The corporate team advising Cibus was led by partner Will Axtell with support from senior associates Dominique Sabatini and Lindsay Chadwick, and associate Leo Shrimpton. The wider team included support from corporate tax partner Kathy Hills, banking and finance partner John Chater, pensions partner Alison Hills and senior associate Clare Coley, commercial partner Joanne Vengadesan, managing associate Edmund Forey, and senior associate Nora Pook, and employment associate Luke Shaw.

Rob Appleby, founder and CIO at Cibus Capital LLP, investment adviser to the Cibus funds, said: “Our partnership with Alba Trees brings an exciting addition to the Cibus portfolio. We are investing in companies which prioritise decarbonisation, and promote sustainable forestry, woodland creation and biodiversity. Alba Trees is an industry leader in this sector, providing farmers and landowners with the tools to achieve superior commercial returns and climate resilience”.

Tom Ritchie, Cibus Capital LLP investment director, said: “We look forward to working with Alba to harness the benefits of cell-grown trees and to maximise the company’s future potential. I’d like to thank Will Axtell and the team at Penningtons Manches Cooper for their expertise and advice on this important addition to the Cibus portfolio.”

Will Axtell, corporate partner at Penningtons Manches Cooper, said:

“We are delighted to have advised Cibus on this important acquisition of Alba Trees as they continue with their core focus of environmental sustainability. We wish Cibus and Alba Trees all the best for their exciting future.”

The team at Penningtons Manches Cooper specialises in advising innovative companies focused on solving global sustainability issues on all aspects of their legal needs, having recently advised moa Technology, a crop protection discovery company, on their recent Series B financing round.

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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 419867.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP