Zaoui Brothers Take U.K. Drugmaker Startup Public via SPAC
(Bloomberg) -- BenevolentAI, a U.K. startup that uses artificial intelligence to develop drugs, is going public at a 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) valuation via a SPAC from investment banker brothers Michael and Yoel Zaoui.
BenevolentAI will combine with Odyssey Acquisition SA, a 300 million-euro blank check company that the Zaoui brothers listed on Euronext Amsterdam in July, according to a statement on Monday.
The deal is backed by existing shareholder Temasek, along with investors including AstraZeneca Plc, Ally Bridge Group and Invus.
BenevolentAI was valued at $2 billion in 2018 after an investment from Woodford Investment Management Ltd., run by fund manager Neil Woodford. A year later, BenevolentAI lost half its value after Woodford struggled with valuations of his own fund.
Blank-check firms listings have cooled off in the U.S., but Europe’s much smaller market SPAC is ticking on. While SPACs usually have 18 months to two years to find an acquisition target, things have been moving much quicker in Europe.
Lakestar SPAC I SE, which listed in Frankfurt in February, agreed in July to buy vacation home platform HomeToGo in a 1.2 billion-euro ($1.4 billion) deal. Italy’s Revo SpAwent public in May and two months later struck a deal for insurer Elba Assicurazioni SpA.
About $7.6 billion has been raised by 32 SPACs across European exchanges this year, compared with over $150 billion in the U.S., according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Olivier Brandicourt, the former CEO of Sanofi, and Jean Raby, former CEO of Natixis Investment Managers, will join the BenevolentAI board after the deal is completed. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. advised BenevolentAI, while JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Zaoui & Co. advised Odyssey.
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