business

Vertical Farmer AeroFarms Plans to Go Public Via SPAC Merger

AeroFarms ($ARFM), a leading vertical farming company, announced Friday morning that it plans to go public via a merger agreement with a special purpose acquisition vehicle. 
The $1.2 billion deal brings together a cutting-edge green company with Wall Street's new favorite financial short-cut to public markets. 
David Rosenberg, co-founder and CEO of AeroFarms, said the company founded in 2004 chose now to go the SPAC-route because of the massive potential of vertical farming. 
"The customer loves our product, so now it's the right time to take our business model and expand it geographically and utilize our platform to have a bigger and bigger impact in lots of different plants," he told Cheddar. 
AeroFarms has relied on partnerships in the past to spread the word about indoor vertical farming — a method that allows growers to layer plants on top of each other in highly-controlled environments. The company has partnered with Singapore Airlines to provide fresh produce for flights between Singapore and New York area airports. AeroFarms is based in Newark, N.J. 
Rosenberg said the company's method requires 95 percent less water and zero pesticides using a combination of UV lights and a slurry of targeted nutrients. 
"Plants don't need sun. They don't need soil. They need spectrum, and they need nutrients and micronutrients," he said. 
Though the company has made its name in leafy greens, which Rosenberg said remain the company's "beachhead," it's since expanded to providing other types of produce, such as strawberries and tomatoes. 
He added that the company is also looking into growing medical and therapeutic supplements. 
"We're growing a plant to produce a protein to treat highly-symptomatic people with COVID-19," he said.  
As for its geographical expansion, the company is breaking ground on two new farms in April: one in Virginia and the other in the United Arab Emirates. 
Rosenberg said the Middle East region, in particular, is a perfect fit for AeroFarms, given the lack of arable land. 
The SPAC deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021 and will begin trading on the Nasdaq.
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