Biotech BenevolentAI floats in Europe’s biggest SPAC takeover

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British biotech star BenevolentAI today said it remains committed to the UK, even after it was made public through Europe’s largest ever healthcare SPAC merger in Amsterdam with a valuation of £1.3bn.

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The firm, which uses artificial intelligence to find and develop new treatments for complex diseases, is set to join Euronext after a reverse takeover by Odyssey, a blanc-check company founded by the Zouai brothers who made the deal. Is.

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The deal would increase to €390 million (£332 million), with Benevolent receiving €135 million from existing backers such as Temasek of Singapore, as well as €300 million of Odyssey’s war-chest.

AstraZeneca, which is working with the firm to find new treatments for chronic kidney disease, is taking a stake.

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The cash will be used to accelerate research, develop machine-learning systems and expand the pipeline of drugs.

It has promised to remain headquartered in the UK as it expands its team and operations both here and in the US.

Baroness Joanna Shields, former executive CEO of Google and Facebook, who served as an advisor to David Cameron’s government, said: “The combination with Odyssey gives us our vision and ambition to unite purposeful technology and cutting-edge science for the search for life. Will allow to increase- change medicines. ”

Founded in 2013 by serial entrepreneur Ken Mulvaney, Benevolent employs more than 300 employees along with UK researchers and executives, split between a science campus in Cambridge and a corporate headquarters in Fitzrovia, London.

Its research alerted US pharma group Eli Lilly to the potential of the arthritis drug baricitinib in treating Covid-19.

The firm reported a loss after tax of £55 million in 2020 after plowing approximately £75 million into research, generating revenue of £7 million.

It was one of the top holdings in fallen stock-picking star Neil Woodford’s Patient Capital Trusts and Equity Income Fund.

Following their dramatic collapse in 2019, the stake was inherited by Schroeders UK Public Private Trust and Link Fund Solutions.

Brothers Michael and Joel Zoui – who built their reputations as dealmakers during careers at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs – launched Odyssey on Euronext in June, and have spent the past six months hunting down a target in the healthcare tech sector .

Olivier Brandicourt, former CEO of French vaccine specialist Sanofi, and Jean Raby, former head of investment managers, will join the board following the completion of the Natixis deal.

Goldman Sachs served as an advisor to Benevolent, with JP Morgan working for Odyssey.


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