Prof. Dr. h.c. Martin Richenhagen
Chairman of the Board
Prof. Dr. h.c. Martin Richenhagen has agreed to serve as Chairman of our Board of Directors. For 16 years, since 2004 he has served as the President & Chief Executive Officer, and since 2006 also as Chairman of the Board of Directors of AGCO. AGCO is a global, manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment and sells its products under the well-known brands Challenger®, Fendt®, Massey Ferguson®,Valtra® and GSI®. Prof. Dr. h.c. Martin Richenhagen is a designated member of the supervisory board of Daimler Truck Holding AG (“Daimler Truck”), the spin-off of Daimler AG’s trucks division is a listed company at ‘Prime Standard’ of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The Prime Standard sets the highest transparency requirements across all segments in the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. As an independent company, Daimler Truck is the world’s market leader employing approximately 100,000 people in more than 35 main sites. Prof. Dr. h.c. Martin Richenhagen is a designated member of the supervisory board of Andreas Stihl AG & Co. KG (“STIHL”). The family-owned company develops, manufactures, and sells power tools for forestry, gardening, landscaping and construction. He currently is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS) in Washington, DC. He also is the Economic Ambassador in Cologne, Germany and a member of the North American Advisory Board of Directors (NAAAB) at Rabobank International. Dr. Richenhagen is also member of the board of directors for Linde PLC (NYSE: LIN) (“Linde”), a multinational chemical company with German-American roots. It is the largest industrial gas company by market share and revenue, serving customers in the healthcare, petroleum refining, manufacturing, food, beverage carbonation, fibre-optics, steel making, aerospace, chemicals, electronics and water treatment industries. From 2015 to 2018, Prof. Dr. Richenhagen also served as a director of Praxair, Inc. (NYSE:PX), from 2015 until the business combination of Praxair, Inc. and Linde in 2018.
Prof. Dr. Richenhagen is also a member of the board of directors of PPG Industries (NYSE: PPG), a leading American coatings and specialty products and services company. He was the Chairman of the German American Chambers of Commerce of the United States and member of the board of directors for Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of the board of directors of the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern US, Inc. He was Member of the U.S. “President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa.” Prof. Dr. Richenhagen has served as Chairman of the board of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (“AEM”) and is a ‘Lifetime Honorary Director’ at AEM. From 2003 until 2004, Prof. Dr. Richenhagen was Executive Vice President of Forbo International SA (XSWX: FORN), a flooring material company headquartered in Switzerland. He also served as Managing Director for CLAAS KGaA mbH, a global agricultural equipment manufacturer and distributor headquartered in Germany, from 1998 until 2003. Prof. Dr. Richenhagen was the Senior Executive Vice President for Schindler Deutschland Holdings GmbH, Germany, a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of elevators and escalators, from 1995 until 1998. Prof. Dr. Richenhagen received the highest distinction conferred by the government of France and was named a Chevalier (Knight) of the Légion d’Honneur (Legion of Honour) in 2018. He has received the Global Leadership Award from the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies and the Federal Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2017.
Chief Executive Officer and Director
Benedikt Förtig serves as our Chief Executive Officer and member of our Board of Directors. Mr. Benedikt Förtig has over 15 years of experience as an entrepreneur, executive, advisor and investor with extensive expertise in agriculture, processing, food production, renewable energy and farm technologies. Mr. Benedikt Förtig also brings diverse management expertise throughout his professional career in various operational and senior executive roles. Prior to serving as our Chief Executive Officer, from 2019 to 2020 he was the General Manager and the Chief Operating Officer of Elite Agro LLC Serbia (a subsidiary of YAS Holding LLC, Abu Dhabi) and responsible for all mergers and acquisitions activities, integration of the investments and operational leadership. Since 2016, he has been advising international investors in the areas of strategy development, restructuring, acquisition and divestment of agribusiness companies and took over interim leadership positions. From 2010 to 2015 he was part of the leadership team of KTG, a public vertical agricultural holding company with operations across Germany and Central Eastern Europe and business activities in farming, processing, trading, food production and agricultural machinery. From 2014 to 2015, he was responsible for internal expansion as Chief Business Development Officer and member of the Board of Directors with a focus on investments, mergers and acquisitions as well as strategic projects in the area of plant proteins and oilseeds at KTG. He was a member of the steering committee of the joint venture with Tönnies Group one of the leading and largest meat processing companies in Europe and took a key leadership role in development and management of the vertical agricultural holding with 50,000 hectares (123,500 acres) of arable farming, compound feed production, pig production and meat processing. Today, the group of companies is one of the 8 largest meat producers in Russia. Mr. Förtig’s experience also includes a vast understanding and passion for venture capital and startups. He supports several projects in the field of farm technologies and plant proteins as a mentor and business angel. Mr. Förtig holds a B.A. in Entrepreneurship and Management Studies from University of Europe for Applied Sciences an M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics from Humboldt University Berlin.
Dr. Uwe Nickel
Dr. Uwe Nickel has agreed to serve as a member of our Board of Directors. Dr. Nickel has 35 years of experience as an executive, advisor, entrepreneur and investor with extensive expertise in specialty-chemicals, agro-chemicals, petrochemicals as well as in active pharmaceutical ingredients production and chemical engineering. During his long career, Dr. Nickel has managed different international businesses and advised global buy and sell side customers in the chemical and pharmaceutical space, amongst them large and midsize chemical companies and private equity funds. He also advised companies and developed on their behalf strategies, restructuring programs and implementation plans for chemical, pharmaceutical and agrochemical customers. Dr. Nickel is an equity partner at Proventis Partners AG, an M&A advisory firm in Switzerland. He also serves as a director on the board of directors of chemical and engineering companies in Europe and North America, such as DCL Corporation, HCS Group GmbH (“HCS”), SIS GmbH, Triplan Ingenieur AG, Pharmaplan AG. From 2011 to 2019, Dr. Nickel was Chief Executive Officer of the specialty hydrocarbon company, HCS. Under his leadership, and strategic M&A, HCS transformed from a local German company, to an international leader in the specialty hydrocarbon sector. From 2008 to 2011, he oversaw chemicals for the ‘EMEA’ region of the management consulting company, Arthur D. Little. From 2003 to 2007, he was a member of the board of directors of the stock listed Swiss company Clariant AG (XSWX: CLN), one of the top 3 global specialty chemicals companies (“Clariant”). He oversaw the groups’ ‘OPEX program’ and the pigments and additives business. By spearheading innovation efforts, investment in new technologies and partaking in joint ventures in China and the APAC region, Dr. Nickel led Clariant to the world’s top ranked company in the specialty chemicals industry. From 1996 to 2003, he was Senior Vice President at Clariant in charge of operations and supply chain management. From 1986 to 1996, he served numerous positions in R&D, operations and staff functions in the Hoechst AG, one of the largest global chemical companies. Dr. Uwe Nickel holds a Ph.D in Organic Chemistry from the Johann Wolfgang Goethe and graduated in several management training programs at INSEAD, France and IMD, Switzerland.
Jeffrey B. Kamins
Jeffrey B. Kamins has agreed to serve as a member of our Board of Directors. Mr. Kamins has over 25 years of international experience with primary focus in the agriculture, irrigation and energy sectors in Eastern Europe and Africa, having served in numerous senior roles at international manufacturers and as a former diplomat in the U.S. Department of Commerce. Presently, he is the Chief Executive Officer of Integrated Trade Finance LLC, a global finance and market development company, with directors in 32 cities worldwide, covering 85 markets. Mr. Kamins’ global team represents numerous manufacturers and investors, arranging CAPEX and project finance. Formerly, Mr. Kamis also served as Director, Finance, Central and Eastern Europe / Eurasia for AGCO International GmbH, overseeing all retail finance programs for AGCO brands, special project finance for key account customers and all wholesale finance for distribution partners. He holds a M.B.A./MIM from Thunderbird School of Global Management, which he received in 2000. In 1995, Mr. Kamins graduated with a B.A. in International Affairs from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Mr. Kamins is fluent in Russian and working knowledge of German and Spanish.
Hans-Bernd Veltmaat has agreed to serve as a member of our Board of Directors. In 2012, Mr. Veltmaat was appointed Senior Vice President and Chief Supply Chain Officer of AGCO. In this role at AGCO, Mr. Veltmaat has global responsibility for manufacturing, purchasing, logistics and quality. AGCO’s manufacturing capacity currently totals 39 factories worldwide. From July 2008 to December 2011, Mr. Veltmaat held the position of Senior Vice President of manufacturing and quality for AGCO and was responsible for AGCO’s factories and quality. Mr. Veltmaat joined AGCO from Alba AG & Co. KG (“Alba”), one of Germany’s leading waste cleaning and recycling companies. Prior to his involvement with Alba, Mr. Veltmaat gained experience in agricultural equipment manufacturing during his 11-year stint with Claas KGaA mbH (“Claas”) in Germany, as a member of the group Executive Board. Mr. Veltmaat spent four years as Executive Vice President Crop Division for Claas and seven years as Managing Director of Claas Fertigungstechnik Group, a technology producer for automotive and aerospace. Prior to joining Claas, Mr. Veltmaat spent 17 years in sales as well as regional management at ABB Ltd. Mr. Veltmaat holds a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Applied Sciences Braunschweig / Wolfenbüttel, Germany. Mr. Veltmaat is a member of the Industry Executive Advisory Board of the Executive M.B.A. in Supply Chain Management at ETH Zurich.
Matthias Krön has agreed to serve as an Independent Director and member of our Board of Directors. Mr. Krön is a key driver in the development of European protein markets, a visionary serial entrepreneur and founder of a European Soya Association, the “Donau Soja Association,” a key organization in European non-GMO soy production. Presently, Mr. Krön is the Chief Executive Officer at Plant Republic GmbH, a European leader in tofu and plant meat production, based in Vienna, Austria. Since 2012, Mr. Krön has served as President of Donau Soja Association, a driving force in the European protein markets. He is responsible for successfully lobbying the European Union with the Europe Soya Declaration in 2017 (signed by 14 EU agricultural ministers) resulting in the development of the ‘EU Protein Plan’. He was also responsible for developing the Danube and Europe soya standards, the gold standards with the best benchmarking in the world of soy. From 1995 to 2011, Mr. Krön was the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Mona Group, the second largest European non-dairy producer, Mr. Krön has carved a new and innovative business out of an old dairy industry. He has developed a European multi-site production strategy and early on understood that diversity of raw materials and natural, clean label products, were the future. Currently, Mr. Krön is driving forward the development of ‘Fields of Europe’, the first comprehensive European food and feed system. In this project Mr. Krön partnered up with the Archer-Daniels-Midland Company, (NYSE:ADM), Agrifirm, Fenaco, Ameropa and many others. Mr. Krön has extensive experience as a Board Member and Co-Founder of successful businesses in soya, wine, hemp, testing and real estate. He is fluent in Chinese, English and German and has a large personal network in Europe, China and the US.
Dr. Thomas Berger
Dr. Thomas Berger has agreed to serve as a member of our Board of Directors. Dr. Berger combines extensive industry experience in the field of renewable energies with wide-ranging legal expertise in various areas of law. Since January 2017 he has been responsible for the corporate restructuring, advising on investment in financial instruments and corporate strategy, as an independent legal and financial consultant. He is also a shareholder of NordStrom AG (Berlin and Luxembourg). Between April 2009 to August 2016, Dr. Berger was Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of KTG Energie AG (“KTGE”), Europe’s largest listed biogas producer at the time. Under his leadership, KTGE more than tripled its revenue. Under Dr. Berger’s leadership, the company generated significant EBITDA and went public in June 2012 on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. During this time, he developed international expertise in the legal field of renewable energies and was a speaker at numerous conferences. Dr. Berger worked for Freshfields and Noerr, international law firms, for two years before becoming the Managing Director at an airline, Comfort Air GmbH & Co. KG, München Airport, which he successfully managed until the owner sold it to an investor in 2008. Following a period with the Deutscher Bundestag (the German parliament) in 2002 as the Speaker in the Economic Committee, he was admitted to the bar in Munich in 2003. Dr. Berger has a Ph.D in law from Ludwig Maximilians Universität in Munich, he studied law in Munich and Geneva, he received a scholarship from the Hanns Seidel Foundation and the Max Planck Society.
Kristopher Lance Anderson
Kristopher Lance Anderson has agreed to serve as a member of our Board of Directors. Mr. Anderson brings over 20 years of experience in intellectual property development, management and transactions, including corporate and asset-based acquisitions. Since 2016, Mr. Anderson has served as a member of the law firm of Dickinson Wright PLLC (“DW”), in its Austin, Texas office. DW is a fully integrated law firm of approximately 500 attorneys in 19 offices in the United States and Canada. Since 2018, Mr. Anderson has further served as a Deputy CEO of DW, overseeing the firm’s marketing and information technology operations. Mr. Anderson specializes in complex intellectual property and technology transactions and advising businesses in acquisition and disposition of innovation-rich assets. Mr. Anderson has previously served in-house for both a public academic research institution and a private venture capital operating company, in both instances leading the development, negotiation and disposition of all forms of intellectual property. Mr. Anderson practices directly within the agricultural and biotechnology arenas, as well as with food, medical device, pharmaceutical, immuno-oncology, and drug delivery ventures, together with their various regulatory frameworks. In addition to such experience, Mr. Anderson’s background originated in commercial agriculture, working in rural west Texas with corporate family farming operations and contract R&D efforts for new germplasm and agricultural compounds. A significant portion of Mr. Anderson’s current practice includes plant traits and plant-derived products and related formulations ranging from cannabis/hemp to fresh produce and food products. Mr. Anderson has been qualified as a member of the Bar of the State of Texas since 2000, and the United States Patent Office since 2005. Prior to his current firm, Mr. Anderson was Of Counsel at Greenberg Traurig’s Austin, Texas Office. Mr. Anderson is a graduate of Texas Tech University and Texas Tech University School of Law, and received Distinguished Alumnus recognition in 2019 by the Texas Tech University College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.
Mr. Anderson obtained his undergraduate degree in Entomology with a minor in Horticulture, and further obtained his Masters’ degree in Crop Science, participating in both traditional breeding and genetic research projects.
Matthijs P. Mondria has agreed to serve as a member of our Board of Directors. During the course of his 30 year long career, he has developed professional experience in global food and agribusiness strategy, sustainability, mergers and acquisitions and in corporate and acquisition debt finance. Mr. Mondria currently serves as an advisory board member of APH Group, an agriculture equipment distribution company with strong market positions in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. He is also the principal adviser to True-code.org, a not-for-profit venture initiative sponsored by the Consumer Goods Forum (the pre-eminent industry platform of consumer goods retailers and branded goods producers) aiming to create radical food supply chain transparency for food retailers and consumer food producers. Between September 2002 and May 2021, Mr. Mondria served in various roles with Rabobank, the world’s leading food and agribusiness bank. From April 2018 to May 2021, Mr. Mondria, as Managing Director and Global Head of Sustainable Business Development, was responsible for integrating sustainability in the client business operations of Rabobank’s global wholesale banking network. From January 2010 to April 2018, Mr. Mondria was a Managing Director and Global Sector Head, leading Rabobank’s business with all corporate clients operating in the upper end of the food value chain (equipment, genetics, animal and crop nutrition, crop protection, pharma, biotechnology, AgTech). As Executive Vice President and Head of Food & Agribusiness, Mr. Mondria was responsible for Rabobank’s portfolio of Food and Agribusiness clients based in the Netherlands between June 2007 and January 2015. From 2010 through 2014 he combined his responsibilities as Global Sector Head and Head of Food & Agribusiness at Rabobank. From April 2003 to June 2007, Mr. Mondria, as Executive Director and Head of Acquisition Finance, lead a team responsible for the origination, structuring and execution of debt finance in relation to corporate and private equity backed acquisitions. During his tenure at Rabobank, Mr. Mondria served for many years in the group credit committee. Mr. Mondria received his M.B.A. and his B.B.A. from Nyenrode University in the Netherlands.