The stem of a soybean plant with young pods. Photo credit: iStock

Brief: Benson Hill to go public in $2bn SPAC merger

May 10, 2021

  • US crop genetics startup Benson Hill will become a publicly traded company via a merger with Star Peak Corp II, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) operated by Illinois’ Star Peak.
  • The parties expect the deal to raise around $625 million in cash proceeds, valuing St Louis-based Benson Hill at $2 billion, The Wall Street Journal reports.
  • This includes a $225 million private investment in public equity transaction involving funds managed by BlackRock, Lazard, and Van Eck Associates, among others.
  • Star Peak Corp II is the second SPAC launched by Star Peak, which took ‘smart battery’ maker Stem public last month. 

Why it matters:

Founded in 2012, Benson Hill — which is developing gene-edited and selectively bred versions of crops used in alt-protein and animal feed production — has previously received investment from Bunge, Google, and Louis Dreyfus Company, among others.

It’s the latest in a string of SPAC deals which have seen agrifoodtech companies go public in the US. Kentucky-based indoor ag company AppHarvest combined with Nasdaq-traded Novus Capital in February at a $1 billion-plus valuation; while vertical farmer AeroFarms is completing a $1.2 billion merger with Spring Valley Acquisition Corp.

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