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. Ram Bürgi-Krishnamurthy
Chief Financial Officer
Dr. Ram Bürgi-Krishnamurthy serves as our Chief Financial Officer. Dr. Bürgi-Krishnamurthy has over 22 years of strategic global operational experience in large technology focused multinational public and private corporations. Presently, and since 2016, Dr. Bürgi-Krishnamurthy is the Managing Director of Health Bytes, LLC a Switzerland-based financial and management consultancy firm. Since 2018, he is also a senior consultant to Celtic Asset and Equity Partners in Dublin, a boutique consultancy specialized in SPACs. Furthermore, since 2019, he is also a member of Board of Directors of Thermal Medical Switzerland Ltd., a Swiss domiciled limited company specialized in development and global marketing of medical devices. Prior to his current engagements, Dr. Bürgi-Krishnamurthy held senior global sales and marketing positions at RADIOMETER MEDICAL ApS, which was later acquired by Danaher Corporation (NYSE: DHR). Earlier in his career, Dr. Bürgi-Krishnamurthy held senior positions in business management for Octapharma AG (“Octapharma”), Thermo Fisher Scientific Schweiz (AG), a group company of Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc. (NYSE: TMO), Straumann Holding AG (XSWX: STMN) and Deloitte Consulting AG. At Octapharma, he managed financial and technical due diligence for multiple M&A targets in the U.S. as well implemented a global resource management system. Between 2008 and 2017, he was an active executive committee member of the Strathclyde Alumni Association, a non-profit organization serving the advancement of knowledge and network among the alumni members. Since 2019, he is also a juror and mentor for MassChallenge Switzerland. Dr. Bürgi-Krishnamurthy has a PhD from University of Zurich, Switzerland and an MBA from Strathclyde Business School, UK. We believe that his experience and contacts in global manufacturing as well as his strong understanding of the strategic global operations of large corporations makes him well qualified to serve as our chief financial officer.
Anthony V. Raftopol
Chief Operating Officer
Anthony V. Raftopol serves as our Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Raftopol is a US-trained attorney specializing in cross-border commercial transactions into the markets of Eastern Europe and the Middle East. As such, he brings over 25 years of experience in mergers and acquisitions, real estate and finance. Concurrently, and prior to joining our company, Mr. Raftopol serves as the Managing Partner of Ternir Group, a legal and financial consulting services firm based out of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. From 2018 to 2021, Mr. Raftopol served as Chief Operating Officer and Senior Legal Counsel to StHealth Capital Investment Corporation (a SEC-registered Business Development Company) and Vision BioBanc Holdings, Inc. (a privately-registered, licensed financial institution), both of which are based in the U.S. and are focused on healthcare-related investments. In those roles, Mr. Raftopol was tasked with oversight over all capital raising and investment banking activities, fund acquisitions, joint-venture and partnership arrangements, on-going regulatory compliance under applicable U.S. securities laws, communication with the SEC, the formulation of internal compliance policies, procedures and controls, audit requirements, vendor retention and performance, as well as general fund operations. Mr. Raftopol also held partner-level and senior roles in the M&A and finance practices of other law firms focused on Eastern Europe and the Middle East, including Salans (now Dentons), Herzfeld & Rubin, the Iraq Law Alliance and MENA Legal Advisors. In 1995, he was admitted by the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division — Second Department to practice law in the State of New York, and continues to be in good standing. He was also a member of the Bar of Bucharest, Romania between 2005 and 2010. Mr. Raftopol is a graduate of Northwestern University and the Boston University School of Law, and is fluent in English, Romanian, French, Italian and Spanish.