Plant-Based Food Startup Benson Hill Going Public in $2 Billion SPAC Business Deal

By Adriaan Brits Monday, May 10, 2021

Benson Hill, a tech-focused plant-based startup company, announced it is going public via a business merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Star Peak Corp. II. This way, the startup company is valued at $2 billion, the plant-based food business is valued at $2 billion.

A roll of cash and a bag labeled 'SPAC' on a balance board.

Mass Production Scheduled for 2022

Benson Hill develops a platform that utilizes machine learning, simulations, and genetics to facilitate plant growth. The startup company claims it can develop breeds of crops, which include soybeans and yellow peas, that mature faster and contain more protein or taste better. In addition, Benson is also developing animal feed products.

The plant-based food business said it expects to begin mass production of its high-protein soybean by 2022 and is also planning to launch a yellow-pea protein concentrate. The startup company expects to gain $625 million in proceeds from its SPAC business deal, allowing it to speed up its bid to slash plant-based food costs.

“We believe the natural genetic diversity of plants has untapped potential to make great-tasting food and ingredient choices that are healthier, more sustainable, and more affordable,” said Matt Crisp, CEO of the startup company.

Benson said it hopes last year’s business sales of roughly $100 million will surge this year as it partnered up with more food companies, restaurants, and grocery stores.

The SPAC deal is expected to close later in 2021, and the combined company will trade under the symbol “BHIL.” The company’s current investors include Alpabeth’s VC branch GV, agricultural trading company Bunge, and Louis Dreyfus.

“Benson Hill is a truly category-defining food technology company, with a game-changing technology platform and a significant and growing addressable market, that’s the first of its kind to go public. Benson Hill and its exceptional management team perfectly align with Star Peak’s mission to provide growth capital to a market-leading business focused on sustainability and decarbonization,” commented Mike Morgan, chairman of Star Peak.

Backers, including funds managed by BlackRock, Van Eck Associates, Hedosophia, and Lazard Asset Management, will infuse a $225 million private investment in public equity, or PIPE. In addition to business funds held by the SPAC, Benson Hill is set to generate about $625 million in cash proceeds.

Similar to the plant-based food startup, a number of other companies, including vertical-farming company AeroFarms, have previously raised business funds and gone public via SPAC deals.

Star Peak II is the second SPAC founded by Michael Morgan, a former executive at energy infrastructure company Kinder Morgan, as well as investors at the hedge fund Magnetar Capital. Their first Star Peak has recently taken the clean-energy storage company Stem public.

Magnetar is one of the top SPAC investors that had roughly $2.9 billion in SPAC holdings at the end of last year, according to SPAC Research. The data from this research firm also show that SPAC entities have raised $100 billion year-to-date (YTD), up from over $80 billion last year.

Summary

Plant-growing tech startup Benson Hill said it is going public through a business merger with a SPAC Star Peak Corp. II that values the company at $2 billion. The plant-based food startup is projected to receive $625 million in proceeds.

About the Author


Headshot for author Adriaan Brits
As an analyst of global affairs, Adriaan has an MSC from Oxford, with diverse interests in the digital economy, entertainment, and business. He is a specialist trainer in Advanced Analytics & Media.

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