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UK drugmaker to be taken public in SPAC deal worth $1.69bn

written by Bella Palmer

Special purpose acquisition company Odyssey Acquisition will combine with BenevolentAI in a deal which values the company at $1.69bn, according to the firm

Investment banking brothers, Michael and Yoël Zaoui, are set to take a UK start-up that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to develop drugs public through their blank-cheque company unveiled in June.

Odyssey Acquisition, the Zaoui’s €300m ($338.10m) special purpose acquisition company, will combine with BenevolentAI in a deal that values the company at €1.5bn ($1.69bn), according to a statement from the firm.

The dealmaking duo, who previously held senior roles at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley before launching their own boutique advisory firm in 2013, unveiled plans for Odyssey earlier this year, stating that it would target high-growth healthcare and technology companies and list on the Amsterdam stock exchange, which has so far been at the centre of European Spac activity.

Established in 2013, BenevolentAI uses technology in the discovery of new drugs and has nearly 300 scientists and technologists working at the firm.

Michael Zaoui said in a statement that Odyssey was established to bring European healthcare and technology companies to the capital markets and that BenevolentAI is at the ‘convergence of these two sectors’.

Michael Zaoui serves as chair of Odyssey, with Yoël co-chief executive alongside former Natixis investment management boss Jean Raby.

Spac IPOs worth a combined $3.6bn have been raised in the Amsterdam exchange so far this year, according to data provider Dealogic, far ahead of other European cities. The UK has lagged other markets, but recent changes to listing rules are expected to result in more Spacs choosing London.

A £150m ($198.83m) Spac from technology-focused venture capital firm, Hambro Perks, in November was the first such listing since the review of UK capital markets by Lord Hill earlier this year. Before this, just $432m was raised by Spacs in the UK in 2021.


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