Ceres was established in April 2006 with the initial objective of acquiring a substantial portfolio of agricultural land in Bulgaria. Yet, the founders had a clear vision for concentrated buying of land from the beginning with the aim that it could be further used for agricultural purpose and managed more effectively. Presently, Ceres is the third largest fund investing in farmland in Bulgaria with the most concentrated holdings.
The current capital of Ceres is approximately ?45 million and consists of both monetary and in-kind (land) contributions by shareholders provided in four capital increases.
By Мay 2011, Ceres owns more than 21,400 Ha and farms with an area of 12,300 Ha.
The investment vehicle of Ceres is a joint stock company registered pursuant to the Bulgarian Commercial Law. It is governed by a Board of Directors representing the shareholders and responsible for major strategic and financial decisions. On the other hand, daily operations are under the control of a management company (Paladin Realty Management Ltd – the Fund Manager) and an Advisory Board consisting of major shareholders and professionals with extensive expertise and long investment track record. KPMG is employed as the Fund’s auditing company, whereas legal services are delegated to a leading local law firm and Cameron McKenna (international legal counsel).
Ceres cultivates soft commodities on 12 300 ha in its focus locations where we have achieved the best mix between land concentration and possibilities to make a modern agricultural business. We have three focus-regions - Pordim cluster, Pleven District, Yakimovo cluster, Montana District, Mizia cluster and Vratza District. The commodities we grow are wheat, rapeseed, sunflower and corn.
Grain Storage Silos
The Fund has identified an opportunity in investing in grain silos that aligns strategically with the soft commodities projects. The silos can also be an excellent cash generating activity on its own. Storage facilities are very important type of infrastructure for agricultural producers and are usually directly related to greater profitability.
Ceres has already initiated a silo project with a capacity of 12 000 tons. The construction of the silo is planned for one of the Fund’s focus regions and in the area where we cultivate soft commodities. A major motivation for the realization of the project is the expected availability of EU financing for over 40-50% of the project’s budget.
In order to add value to its land investments, and the benefit from development of high-tech agriculture, the Fund set up irrigation systems on part of the lands it cultivates. We explore the opportunities to grow irrigated corn, and other crops that could provide for good return on the investment in irrigation infrastructure.