July 19, 2024

A year ago, the American society Rose Hill Acquisition Corporation was listed on the Nasdaq. Its purpose was only one: to use that vehicle to open a Latin American company to the US stock market and thereby materialize its growth potential. He analyzed dozens of companies in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Peru. And he found her in Chile… and specifically in Requínoa, a town in the VI Region.

About 15 years earlier, in 2006, the commercial engineer Alejandro García-Huidobro founded Prize. The fruit company represented the world’s largest kiwi producer, Zespri, to later become independent and change to its current name. From then on, it became the fifth world player in cherries, with exports to more than 30 countries. In 2022 the production of blueberries began in Peru. And today it has three operation centers: in O’Higgins and Biobío in Chile, and Trujillo, Peru. In the 2020-2021 season, it achieved sales of US$120 million and an Ebitda of US$24 million.

And it was precisely Prize that attracted Rose Hill. “The producer, processor and exporter of superfruits Prize will become the first Chilean company to list directly on the Nasdaq, through a combination of its business with Rose Hill Acquisition Corporation”, the latter noted in a statement. They added: “In Prize we find a young and dynamic company, with the potential to become a relevant player in its industry at a global level.”

Currently, the agri-food industry has a high potential for expansion. According to the protagonists of the operation, the increase in consumers would drive a 46% rise by 2030 in the superfood sector, reaching US$230 billion.

Alejandro García-Huidobro stresses that they had been looking for ways to consolidate their expansion for some time. “In this process came the proposal from Rose Hill, who found in Prize a company with opportunities and growth capacity. We studied the proposal and we liked it, because the structure of Rose Hill’s SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company) offers the opportunity for a more efficient IPO, in terms of costs and terms. And it places Prize in the most efficient financial market in the world, facilitating the development options of our business plan in the best conditions”.

There are three Rose Hill partners: former tennis players and investors, Albert Hill and Juan José Rosas, as well as Felipe Canales. They are backed by Cohen & Company, a US-based fund manager with $2.8 billion of assets under management, and their strategic partner is Ameris Capital, which manages 50 funds in the Andean region and assets of $1.5 billion.

In the case of Prize, the advisory board is made up of the former manager of Viña Veramonte, Recaredo Ossa; the former general manager of Ditec Automoviles, Tomás Etcheverry, and the former Falabella, Jordi Gaju.

The operation now goes like this: Prize will be listed on the Nasdaq in the quota obtained by Rose Hill. And the mnemonic will be PRZE. The operation is subject to the authorization of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). It is estimated that everything will conclude before the end of the year, which would allow Prize to start trading its shares on the US stock market in the first quarter of 2023. This does not mean that today investors cannot buy ROSE shares, which will later be converted into shares of Prize after the transaction.

After the combination with Rose Hill, Alejandro García-Huidobro and his wife Micaela Cartwright will be left with about 80% of the property. Rose Hill, with 1.7%. And about 18% will be placed in the stock market. And the directory will change. Several members of the SPAC team will become part of it. Felipe Canales, former financial director of Axtel and director of strategy of the Alfa Group, will enter as independent director; in addition to Pablo Armas, co-founder of Ameris Capital and current director of Copeval. As a non-independent director, Albert Hill will arrive. And Juan José Rosas will take over as director of strategy. Alejandro García-Huidobro will remain as president.

With the operation, the firm will be valued at around US$425 million, since the placement is expected to provide Prize with a capital injection of US$65 million, funds that will be used to finance the expansion plan. In addition, the company has an equity line with the Yorkville Advisors global fund for up to US$150 million, at Prize’s discretion, for a period of three years after listing. For reference, Hortifrut, one of the largest Chilean fruit growers, has a market capitalization of just under US$500 million.

“Prize wants to become a global superfruit platform to contribute to a better diet in the world. In the most immediate, we have on the agenda the expansion of our production to three new countries during 2023-24, through acquisitions, alliances with producers or organic growth”, explained Alejandro García-Huidobro. Today, the company has 740 hectares. His idea is to add 2,400 more hectares.

The founder adds: “Prize will become the first company of its kind that will have at least 18% of its ownership listed on the stock exchange, with which we aspire to attract investors aligned with our objectives.”

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