Babylon Health to go public in $4.2bn SPAC deal

4 Jun 2021

Dr Ali Parsa. Image: Babylon Health

The UK health-tech firm has brought in Palantir as an investor as part of the deal, which will see the company list on the Nasdaq.

Babylon Heath, the British health-tech start-up, is next to join the SPAC race with a $4.2bn merger.

The London-based company provides video doctor consultations and an app for checking symptoms.

It will merge with Nasdaq-listed Alkuri Global Acquisition Corp, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) headed up by former Groupon chief executive Rich Williams, which will bring Babylon public in the US rather than its home market of the UK.

The deal will also see Palantir, the data analytics firm founded by Peter Thiel that works with intelligence agencies, invest in Babylon.

Ali Parsa will remain chief executive of Babylon with an Alkuri representative taking a board seat.

Parsa said Babylon has achieved the “highest growth rates every year” since its inception. It has raised more than $600m from investors since it was founded in 2013, with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund backing the company’s $550m Series C round in 2019.

“Becoming a public company is just another step in our journey. We are at the very beginning of our work to reimagine our sector, to make it digital-first and prevention-first and shift the focus away from sick care to true health care,” Parsa said.

Earlier this year, SPACs grew in popularity as a means to take a company public. A SPAC is a shell company listed on a stock exchange that has been created to scout out a company to take public.

“When we founded Alkuri, we set out to identify high-potential, disruptive companies with visionary founders and strong teams. Babylon is all of those things, and we’re excited to work with them on their truly world-changing mission,” Alkuri’s Williams added.

Babylon’s blank-cheque merger marks one of the largest SPAC listings for a European tech company in this latest flurry of listings.

UK firms Cazoo, the online car marketplace, and Arrival, the electric car maker, both went public through SPACs in recent months. Both opted for merging with a US-listed company rather than on the London Stock Exchange. US stock markets, namely Nasdaq, have attracted several major deals, including Grab’s mega listing.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin