Blackrock, the fund manager which is half-owned by Merrill Lynch, is to launch a £100m hedge fund that will buy up farmland across Britain to profit from booming food prices. The Sunday Times

The London-based fund will be launched next month as investors show an increasing appetite for the ‘soft commodities’ market.

The fund is expected to be managed by Graham Birch and will be available only to institutional investors. A source said: ‘It is the talk of the commodities market. There will be three strands to the fund – buying futures in wheat and other commodities, buying shares in firms profiting from the higher prices and, most interestingly, actually buying up farms.’