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Farmland Partners land portfolio expands to size of Bahrain

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Farmland Partners revealed that its portfolio had grown nearly to the size of Bahrain, even as the land investment group unveiled a widening loss, blamed on costs stemming from its acquisition of American Farmland Co.

Farmland Partners – which floated three years ago with a portfolio of some 7,000 acres – said that it now controlled 154,000 acres, equivalent to an area half the size of the UK country of Berkshire.

The figure, which the group said had taken the value of its portfolio nearly to $1bn, included 17,800 acres acquired with the merger with American Farmland, plus a further 15 acquisitions totalling some 20,000 acres, and costing some $110m.

Farmland Partners now owns land in 17 states, from Georgia on the US east coast to California in the west, and including large chunks in the Midwest, including in Illinois where the group has its roots, and Plains states such as Kansas and Colorado.

Expansion has been backed by borrowings which the group pegged at $437.8m as of the end of March, largely from Rutledge Investment Co and from MetLife Agricultural Investments.

Farmland Partners over the first three months of the year converted $105.7m of its MetLife loans to fixed interest rates, from variable.

Wider losses

Despite the increased portfolio, the group revealed a decline in its adjusted funds from operations, its preferred income measure, to some $400,000 for the January-to-March quarter, equivalent to $0.01 per share, from $700,000 a year before.

Headline losses expanded 43% to $2.55m.

Paul Pittman, the Farmland Partners chief executive, said that the results reflected "one-time expenses" associated with the American Farmland deal, including increased acquisition and due diligence costs, which rose ninefold year on year to $515m, and a fee for terminating an advisory contract with Prudential.

Revenues, however, while up 52% year on year at $7.1m, did not reflect the full benefit of the acquisitions, including in many cases contributions for only part of the January-to-March period.

"A combination of one-time expenses and understated revenue recognition due to the timing of the close of the American Farmland merger… negatively affected our reported financial performance measures," Mr Pittman said.

Farmland Partners shares stood 2.2% lower at $10.56 in late deals in New York.

By Mike Verdin

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