AppHarvest to go public via merger with blank-check firm

(Reuters) - Agricultural technology firm AppHarvest said on Tuesday it would go public through a merger with a blank-check company in a deal that will value the company at $1 billion.

As part of the deal with Novus Capital Corp, which is a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), AppHarvest will receive $475 million from new and existing investors such as Fidelity Management, Inclusive Capital and Novus Capital.

Novus Capital’s shares rose 19.7% to a record high of $12.07 on Tuesday.

Kentucky-based AppHarvest builds large indoor farms and greenhouses in the Appalachia region of the United States. Through its farms, the company is looking to help increase crop yields and improve access to non-GMO food, or food that is not genetically modified.

A blank-check company, also known as a SPAC, uses capital raised through an initial public offering to buy a private company, usually within two years. Investors are not notified in advance what the SPAC will buy.

SPACs have emerged as a quick route to the stock market for companies, particularly auto technology startups, concerned about the risk of the lengthy IPO process.

In some cases, these companies have also struggled to attract interest from institutional investors such as pension funds and venture capital firms.

Reporting by Madhvi Pokhriyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel