Cibus acquires Leading UK Cell-grown Tree Producer Alba Trees

Monday, 20 February 2023, London – Cibus Fund II (‘Cibus’), the specialist sustainable food and agriculture fund, has successfully completed the acquisition of Alba Trees Limited (‘Alba’ or ‘Alba Trees’).

Alba Trees is a UK market leader in the production and supply of cell-grown plants for sustainable forestry, native woodland and hedgerows. 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 portfolio companies within the existing Cibus 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 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[1].

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. Cibus invests in companies which prioritise decarbonisation, 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: “Alba plays a prominent role in the UK forestry sector and is a large-scale contributor to biodiversity and natural capital projects. We look forward to working with Alba to harness the benefits of cell-grown trees and to maximise the company’s future potential.”

Craig Turner, CEO of Alba Trees, added: “Our new partnership with Cibus marks an exciting step in our growth journey. The firm’s expertise and strong experience investing in agriculture and agtech will enable us to scale our business, embrace technology and to continue to invest in plant health.”

Over the last 15 years, Buccleuch, a leading rural business group, has been the majority shareholder in Alba Trees.

Jon Alexander, COO of Buccleuch & Chairman of  Alba Trees, prior to the acquisition, said: “In our  time with Alba Trees, the business has gone from strength to strength, and we plan to re-invest the proceeds from the sale of our shareholding in our core rural business enterprises.

Buccleuch’s relationship with Alba Trees will continue, and I wish all at Alba well for this exciting new chapter for the company.”

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About Cibus Capital

Cibus Capital LLP is a sustainable food and agriculture firm based in London. Founded in 2016, Cibus 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 1bn to date (as of 1st January 2023), 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.

About Alba Trees

Alba Trees is a forestry nursery founded in 1988, pioneering the supply of cell-grown trees for forestry purposes. Based in East Lothian, Scotland, Alba Trees is positioned close to its primary planting sites and is an important local employer. Through continual expansion and re-investment, the company today supplies around twenty million trees for planting each year  into the UK forestry market including landscaping and retail, and works closely with local and national authorities around environmental and community planting initiatives. With increased political and societal focus on climate change, tree planting is an important mitigation tool to create new native woodlands and to increase the supply of home grown timber. Alba Trees is well-positioned and honoured to address this important, growing demand and is a supporter of tree breeding and seed collection initiatives for the sector.