Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Golden LEAF assets rise 14.3% in past year to $1.34B

The Golden LEAF Foundation’s investment portfolio ended February with $1.34 billion, up about 14% from a year ago, the group reported at its board meeting in Charlotte last week.

The Rocky Mount-based foundation is a force in N.C. economic development, with proceeds from the fund helping boost efforts mainly in N.C. rural areas.

Its mission centers on aiding regions previously heavily dependent on the tobacco industry, though it has made major grants in more urban areas such as $45 million for a plant-sciences building at N.C. State University in Raleigh, $50 million for the Toyota electric-battery plant near Greensboro and $12 million for a bridge needed to access the Pratt & Whitney factory in Asheville.

At the Charlotte meeting, directors approved $8.1 million for community college scholarships, flood mitigation, food distribution and other grants. It approved $47.5 million for 161 projects last year, and expects to grant about $69 million in the 2025 fiscal year, according to a foundation report last week.

The group’s portfolio benefited from the strong stock market, with the fund reporting a 14.3% overall return in the year ending Feb. 29. Most of the growth stemmed from global equity investments, which increased nearly 24%. Such investments account for 52% of total assets, compared with 16% for absolute return; 14% for real assets; 10% for fixed income and cash; and 9% for private equity.

The portfolio’s five-year annualized return is 6.6%, while the 10-year return is 6.1%. Over the past decade, private equity has been the best-performing sector with a 14.7% annual return, followed by global equity at 7.3%. The group’s modest fixed-income portfolio has returned 2% annually.

The group’s assets were $1.2 billion as of June 30, 2022, and $1.38 billion as of June 30, 2021, according to its most recent annual report.

Since 1999, the fund has provided $1.3 billion to advance economic opportunity in the state. That compares with investment gains of $1.1 billion during that period.

Golden LEAF was created by the 1998 agreement with large tobacco companies related to a settlement of public-health litigation.

The foundation’s staff works with Prime Bucholz, a Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based investment consulting firm, on its investments. They help choose money managers and allocate investments to targeted levels.

David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg is editor of Business North Carolina. Reach him at

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