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Farmers Edge launches IPO

Digital ag firm makes first public share offering to big demand

Farmers Edge's online event on March 3 included a congratulatory note from TMX Group, owner of the TSX. (Farmers Edge video screengrab)

Manitoba’s best-known digital agriculture firm is now a publicly-traded company.

Farmers Edge, founded in 2005 in Pilot Mound, Man. by agronomists Wade Barnes and Curtis MacKinnon, has carved out a niche using field-centric data, artificial intelligence and its FarmCommand data management platform.

CEO Wade Barnes called it an exciting day during an online press conference Wednesday marking the event from the firm’s Winnipeg headquarters.

“It’s a transformational day for Farmers Edge and a huge change for all of agriculture as we see the digitization of the most important industry in the world,” Barnes said.

Barnes added that the company will use the new funding — totalling $125,001,000, based on 7,353,000 common shares issued at $17 per share — to build on its vision of digital farming.

“We’ll be scaling up our teams to grow the business,” he said. “We’ll also be developing new products.”

In many ways the IPO process represents the maturation of any company, he said, but added that it accomplished some specific things for Farmers Edge.

Most of the venture capital that’s been raised over the past few years has now been converted into shares, he noted.

“It leaves us with a really clean balance sheet, and lots of dry powder to go out and grow the business organically,” he said. “This is at a time when digital agriculture is growing rapidly.”

Responding to questions from financial journalists during the virtual question-and-answer session following company presentations, David Patrick, Farmers Edge’s chief financial officer, said interest was strong in the offering.

“Our underwriting partners told us there was about nine times the interest as there were available shares,” he said.

By 2 p.m. on the day of the IPO, share prices had already climbed to $19.64, rising $2.64 from the IPO price of $17 per share.

The company initially aimed to sell a 16 per cent stake with shares priced between $10 and $17 each, according to Feb. 9 sale documents.

National Bank of Canada and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce led a group of five investment banks on the IPO, and have an option to acquire an additional 15 per cent of the offering.

The company will trade on the TSX under the symbol FDGE.

— Gord Gilmour is editor of the Manitoba Co-operator in Winnipeg.

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