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WSJ News Exclusive | Plant-Tech Firm Benson Hill Going Public in $2 Billion SPAC Merger

Benson Hill Inc. is going public by merging with a special-purpose acquisition company in a deal that values the plant-growing technology firm at $2 billion, the companies said.

The operator of a platform that uses machine learning, simulations and genetics to optimize plant growth, Benson Hill is combining with the SPAC Star Peak Corp. II . Benson Hill says it can develop breeds of crops like soybeans and yellow peas that mature faster, have higher protein content or taste better, saving growers time and resources.

Such ingredients are key for plant-based meat alternatives, and the company is also developing products for animal feed. Cheaper, more-sustainable plant-growing methods are needed to feed the world’s growing population and accelerate the fight against climate change, analysts say.

The St. Louis-based company expects to begin commercial production of its ultrahigh-protein soybean by next year and is developing a yellow-pea protein concentrate. It also has a unit that sells fresh produce to grocery stores and food distributors. The roughly $625 million in expected cash proceeds from the deal will accelerate Benson Hill’s bid to bring down plant-based food costs, Chief Executive Matt Crisp said in an interview.

“It’s positioning us to really gear shift into another level of growth,” he said.

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