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United Arab Emirates-based Pure Harvest Smart Farms raised $180.5 million in its biggest ever fundraising, from backers including the billionaire Olayan family, which runs one of Saudi Arabia’s largest conglomerates.
The firm, which already has farms in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, will use the funds to expand in the Middle East and enter new markets in Asia. It grows produce including tomatoes and strawberries in controlled environments to protect crops from harsh outdoor conditions while also limiting water use.
Other investors include Britain’s Metric Capital Partners and South Korea’s IMM Investment Corp., the company said in a statement. The latest round, structured as a convertible financing, brings the total amount raised by Pure Harvest to $387.1 million.
Mostly dependent on imported food, governments in the Middle East have put increasing focus on food security in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The war has sharply reduced exports from Ukraine, while the blockade of key Black Sea ports has exacerbated supply-chain turmoil, sending global food prices soaring.
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“While climate change is threatening traditional food systems, we’ve seen an opportunity in import-reliant regions experiencing massive population growth to offer a sustainable product, with tangible food security benefits at a new price point,” Pure Harvest founder and Chief Executive Officer Sky Kurtz said in an interview.
The company is looking to use additional debt and project financing to more than double the capital raised in the latest round and is aiming to expand in Singapore, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
“Eventually we see the business as getting to the stage where an IPO on a major international exchange and potentially a dual listing in the Middle East or Asia, as a way for our investors to get an exit,” Kurtz said.
Pure Harvest already has four farms operational in the UAE and one in Saudi Arabia, covering about 22 hectares. Over the next 18 months, the company will more than double the area of land its farms cover with expansions in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, he said.
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