by Steve Bills
1. You are one of the founding partners of Paine and Partners. How did the firm evolve form being a general buyout shop to having a specialization in food and agribusiness?
I joined Fox Paine in 2002. Saul Fox later retired and we raised capital as Paine & Partners, with Dexter Paine. From the early days of the firm, we were interested in doing proprietary, thesis-driven deals. There wasn’t one particular industry on which we focused. But we believed to be successful long term, we had to specialize. I grew up in Moline, Illinois, in the corn fields, and Dexter had an affinity for the industry. We spent a lot of time focusing on strategy in food and agribusiness. In Fox Paine Fund I, there were no agriculture deals. In Fund II, about a third of the fund was in food and agriculture. In Fund III, which we’ve been investing since 2007, almost 80 percent of the capital is in agribusiness. Going forward, our entire investment strategy will be on the food and agribusiness segment globally.