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Deal 5: FirstFarms CEO Anders Noergaard on Land Acquisition in Romania

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On March 11, 2020, CEE Legal Matters reported that Kinstellar had advised FirstFarms on its acquisition of agricultural land in Romania from NCH Capital. We spoke to Anders Noergaard, the Group CEO of First Farms, about the deal.

CEELM: To start, tell us about FirstFarms.

Anders: FirstFarms is a public limited company which invests in agriculture and land in Eastern Europe. The company purchases and modernizes farming companies and land in order to optimize their operation so future production of agricultural produce will be competitive in terms of price and quality.

CEELM: What was the business case for this particular acquisition? What made this a particularly attractive target for you?

Anders: One of our business areas is adding value to farmland in terms of the land book, compacting, drainage, and crops. We saw good potential in this farmland. At the same time, we had good relations with the current owners.

CEELM: You are an active investor in Eastern Europe, with agricultural land and portfolios in Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Latvia, and Bulgaria. What, if any, are the specific challenges you face in acquisitions in this region in general, and in Romania in particular?

Anders: We run farms in Czech, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. We have high knowledge about operations in these countries inside the EU. We have no plans to run farms in other countries. In Romania, knowledge about cadastral and land issues is essential to professional farming and acquisitions. On top of that, you have the legal issues which you need to be very knowledgeable about as well.

CEELM: What would you say was the most complex aspect of this deal?

Anders: The most complex aspect is the ownership of the land and the different levels with respect to cadastral and historic documentation.

CEELM: You opted to have Kinstellar advise you on this deal. Why did you reach out to them for assistance on this matter?

Anders: We always use highly skilled and respected lawyers. We have worked with Razvan Popa and Kinstallar for several years and have always received valuable and professional advice. Our idea is to have a good history with our partners and have long term relationships.