UPDATE: June 29, 2022: Kalera officially debuted on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol KAL after its merger with Agrico Acquisition Corp. was approved at a meeting of shareholders on June 28. Kalera’s last day of trading on the Euronext Growth Oslo exchange was June 27. Kalera debuted at $14 a share.
“The closing of this combination will accelerate widespread commercial growth across all our nutritious products while enabling us to embark on the next phase of our journey as a public company to solidify our position as a market leader,” Kalera President and CEO Jim Leighton said in a statement.
- Vertical farming company Kalera AS is merging with Agrico Acquisition Corp., a Nasdaq publicly traded special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), in a deal that would value the combined entity at approximately $375 million, the companies said in a statement. The transaction has been approved by both companies' boards but has not yet been voted on by their shareholders. It is expected to close in the second quarter. Once the deal goes through, Kalera will delist from the Euronext Growth Oslo exchange, where it is currently traded.
- Florida-based Kalera would use the new capital to build its next generation of farms in the U.S. and globally. It currently has four facilities in operation and six under construction. Kalera's interim CEO Curtis McWilliams and the company's current management team would continue to lead the business.
- If the transaction closes, Kalera would be the latest in a series of controlled environment agriculture companies to go public on Nasdaq through a SPAC deal, following Local Bounti and AppHarvest. It would also gain a financial boost for expansion at a time when other vertical farming operators are mapping out major growth plans and raising record sums of money.
Can a company that embraces the sustainability of local food still stake a national or even global claim on an industry? Kalera is about to test the proposition.
"The proposed merger with Agrico positions Kalera to be the first leafy green vertical farm company to have a national footprint in the US and be able to reliably supply a national off-take contract while still being local," said Brent De Jong, chairman and CEO of Agrico, in a statement. "The Agrico team and its scaling experience will supplement an already strong Kalera management team and Board of Directors."
Kalera currently has farms in Orlando, Florida, Atlanta and Houston, with others under construction in Denver and St. Paul, Minnesota. It also has a farm in Kuwait thanks to its 2021 acquisition of Germany-based indoor farm operator &ever GmbH. The $152.6 million deal immediately gave Kalera a global footprint in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and allowed it to expand beyond whole-head lettuce and microgreens into baby leaf varieties such as spinach and arugula.
And last February, Kalera acquired Vindara, a company that develops seeds specifically for indoor vertical farming. As a Kalera subsidiary, it will help the vertical farming company expand into high-yield basil, spinach and strawberries.
Even though the potential benefits of going public are high for Kalera, they do not guarantee future success. AppHarvest, the first indoor grower to go public on Nasdaq through its merger with SPAC Novus Capital in February, has seen its stock price fall from a high of $37.64 a few weeks after it completed the merger to just under $3 by the end of January. Its stock price dropped 6% in premarket trading at the start of this week after the company reported a $170 million to $172.5 million net loss for full year 2021. Regardless, AppHarvest expects to open three new farms this year that it said would expand its tomato-growing capacity and help it move into salad greens and berries.
Meanwhile, the performance of Kalera's stock on the Oslo Euronext exchange, where it debuted in October 2020, has been lackluster as of late. The stock has fallen from a high of 48 Norwegian krone ($5.42) on Feb. 24, 2021 — around the time it announced it would be acquiring Vindara — to 8.07 Norwegian krone ($0.91) at the end of January.