Biotech BenevolentAI to make £1.3bn market debut in Europe’s biggest Spac deal
British biotech BenevolentAI has today agreed to go public at a €1.5 billion (£1.3bn) valuation in Amsterdam via Europe’s largest-ever merger via a special acquisition company (Spac).
BenevolentAI’s deal with Odyssey, a blank cheque company founded by dealmaker brothers Michael and Yoel Zaoui, will allow it to raise €390 million (£332 million) ahead of its debut on Amsterdam’s Euronext.
Although the biotech’s listing will take place in Europe’s Spac capital Amsterdam, the company has made a commitment to remain headquartered in the UK, as it uses some of the cash from the IPO expand its headcount and operations at home and in the US.
Listing proceeds will also be funnelled into developing its machine learning tools and accelerating both its research and the scale up of its drugs discovery pipeline.
In addition to the funds raised, Benevolent will also benefit from the €300m war chest Odyssey accumulated when it listed in July, as well as €135 capital from private investors in public equity (pipe) from existing backers that includes Singapore’s Temasek, and several institutional investors.
AstraZeneca, with whom Benevolent has previously worked on treatments for chronic kidney disease, is taking a stake, as is health investor Ally Bridge.
Current BenevolentAI shareholders are expected to own 67.4 per cent of the combined company, the Odyssey spac shareholders will take 23.5 per cent, and Pipe investors will account for 9.1 per cent of the company’s stakes.
Founded in 2013 by serial entrepreneur Ken Mulvany, Benevolent uses artificial intelligence to discover and develop new medicines.
Benevolent was also one of notorious fund manager Neil Woodford’s biggest bets in 2014, when he invested £40m, before his investment company collapsed due to failures within its portfolio.
The AI firm, which is led by former Facebook executive and government minister Baroness Joanna Shields, hit a £1.5bn valuation after a funding round in 2018. But this was short-lived, as an investment from Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek in September 2019 halved its valuation again.
Woodford’s Patient Capital Trusts and Equity Income Funds collapsed a month later, after having repeatedly breached limits on illiquid and unqouted stocks.
“We have built BenevolentAI into a category defining business by pioneering a revolutionary approach to drug discovery and development,” said CEO Joanna Shields.
“The combination with Odyssey will allow us to scale our vision and ambition of uniting purposeful technology and cutting-edge science to discover life-changing medicines.”