Local Bounti Agrees Merger With Leo Holdings SPAC

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Local Bounti Corp., an indoor agriculture startup, has agreed to go public through a merger with blank-check firm Leo Holdings III Corp.

The transaction will value the combined entity at about $1.1 billion, according to a statement Friday that confirmed an earlier Bloomberg News report.

To support the deal, Leo Holdings III raised $125 million via a so-called private investment in public equity, or PIPE, from investors including Fidelity Management & Research Co., Cargill Inc., BNP Paribas Asset Management Ecosystem Restoration Fund and Sarath Ratanavadi of Gulf Energy Development Public Co. Cargill is additionally slated to provide $200 million in debt financing.

Founded in 2018 by co-CEOs Craig Hurlbert and Travis Joyner, Local Bounti focuses on the sustainable production and delivery of fresh produce. Its proprietary technology grows leafy greens such as romaine and butter lettuce and herbs like cilantro and basil using 90% less land and water than traditional agricultural methods, and without pesticides or herbicides.

“There’s been a flight to quality, which enhanced our ability to secure great PIPE investors and a SPAC partner we’re excited to be building a business we can be proud of with,” Hurlbert said in an interview.

Cash proceeds from the deal will help fund Local Bounti’s expansion domestically and abroad, Hurlbert said. Its plans for growth include adding seven new facilities as well as local leadership in different geographies, according to Friday’s statement.

The startup in May bolstered its leadership ranks, adding Kathleen Valiasek as chief financial officer and former Beyond Meat Inc. CFO Mark Nelson to its board.

Leo Holdings III, led by Lion Capital executives Ed Forst, Lyndon Lea and Robert Darwent, raised $275 million in a February initial public offering. A prior vehicle, Leo Holdings Corp., last July completed a deal to take Digital Media Solutions Inc. public.

“We wanted to invest in a disruptor, which led us to the controlled environment agriculture, or CEA, space,” Lea said.

Other disruptive agriculture companies including AeroFarms and AppHarvest Inc. have struck deals to go public via SPAC mergers.

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