THE head of external assets at AP1, Sweden's first pension fund, has spoken for the first time about investment in Australian rural property, confirming the fund has joined its Swedish peer AP2 in the hunt for farms.
Rikard Kjörling told The Australian Financial Review he visited Australia late last year to inspect farmland assets.
"We have been working on a strategy to invest in farmland for three to four years," Mr Kjörling said.
"We have started to invest on a small scale and, while we can never confirm specific acquisitions, I can say we have started to invest."
The fund, which manages more than 221 billion kronas ($31.5 billion) worth of assets, snapped up the 1600-hectare Merri Meric in NSW's eastern Riverina.
The property was purchased through a vehicle called First Australian Farmland for just under $7 million.
The Swedish fund's peer, AP2, has been buying Australian farmland through US fund manager TIAA-CREF's Westchester.
Mr Kjörling said there was a desire to keep a low profile during the initial stages of investment.
"We don't want to be too public about our investments as we don't want people to have biases [about who is investing]," he said.
"However, we know we have an obligation to the local community."
He said AP1 was interested in investing in Australian and New Zealand farmland but did not want to comment on the level of investment it was prepared to make.