In recent years, SPACs (Special Purpose Acquisition Companies) have exploded in Europe. Young companies have found that merging with SPACs, is the easiest and a trending way for them to go public quicker and earn a significant amount of cash for growth purposes. A report by JP Morgan states that half of all the new IPOs by volume since January 2019 were SPACs. This sets the tone for the recent news released by London-based health tech startup Babylon. The company merged with Alkuri Global Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ: KURI), which happens to be a SPAC. The deal, which is expected to close in the second half of 2021, reflects an initial pro forma equity value of roughly USD 4.2 billion. The only thing holding it up at this point is unanimous approval from the Board of Directors from both Babylon and Alkuri Global. Predictions are that it will be a slam dunk. Babylon will be listed under the ticker BBLN at NASDAQ. SPAC provides companies with an alternative way to go public that is different from the traditional IPO (initial public offering) option. The differences encompass everything from the process, speed, disclosure, and regulatory requirements.
Babylon was founded in 2013 by Ali Parsa who commented, “We founded Babylon on a fundamental belief, that it is possible to make quality healthcare accessible and affordable for every person on earth by combining the latest in technology and the best in medical expertise.” He added, “We have achieved one of the highest growth rates every year since our inception, with consistently high clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction. Becoming a public company is just another step in our journey. We are at the very beginning of our work to re-imagine our sector, to make it digital-first and prevention-first and shift the focus away from sick care to true health care.” Parsa went on to say, “We’re at a critical moment in the evolution of healthcare – if there’s any time to step on the gas to capitalize on this significant market opportunity, it’s now. Babylon is poised to re-engineer the $10 trillion healthcare market to better align system-wide incentives and shift the focus from reactive sick care to preventative healthcare, resulting in better patient health, improved patient experience, and reduced costs.”
Babylon is a digital healthcare app that provides AI-powered diagnosis and video appointments that serve over 24 million people across four continents. In August 2019, the company raised $550 million to support a plan to expand into the United States. To date, a total of $631 million has been raised. The company has experienced rapid growth with a 400% increase in annual revenue in 2020 with a projected 300% revenue growth for 2021. In 2019, Babylon reported $16 million in unaudited revenue, and in 2020 that ballooned to $79 million. The projected revenue for 2021 is a jump to $321 million and up to $710 million in 2022 and $1.4 billion in 2023.
The company uses two primary channels to assist patients. Babylon 360 is the digital-first value-based care service and Babylon Cloud Services which is a suite of digital self-care tools that give patients and clinicians access to information through Babylon directly or via the roster of top-tier partners working with Babylon. In 2020, Babylon helped one patient every five seconds with about 6 million patient interactions throughout that year. The services are available for individuals in Canada, the United States, Europe, Africa, and 13 Asian countries.
Alkali Global Acquisition Corp. was up until March 2021, known as Ark Global. The group is a blank check company that was originally formed for “effecting a merger, stock exchange, asset acquisition, stock purchase, reorganization or similar business combination with one or more businesses or entities.” Although Alkuri is not limited to the industry it will pursue a business combination, the company purposely favors next-generation technology businesses “led by visionary founders and teams leveraging data and artificial intelligence in the areas of consumer internet and marketplaces, health tech, finch, and mobility.”
The deal with Alkuri Global Acquisition Corp. will give Babylon up to $575 million in gross proceeds. That will include a contribution of up to $345 million of cash from Alkuri Global’s trust account assuming no redemptions. A further $230 million is in the form of the private placement, funded over 85% by new, external institutional investors. They include Sectoral Management, Swedbank Robur, AMF Pensionsforsakring, and strategic investor Palantir. There should be about $540 million net cash on the balance sheet for Babylon following the transaction. The company says it has earmarked that for following up on organic growth strategies and to be used to attract further opportunistic acquisitions.
Parsa, who is the CEO of Babylon, will become the new entity’s CEO and stated that the SPAC route will assist the company in hitting the ground running. “It will allow us to capitalize on our market momentum globally and particularly in the US market.” He added, “Ultimately, this process will help accelerate our mission to put accessible and affordable healthcare in the hands of every person on earth and provide us with capital to support our ambitious growth plans and accelerate our go-to-market strategy.”
There is a saying that states good things come to those who wait. There is another saying that indicates that hard work is often rewarded. The tremendous amount of work and effort that has been put into the development of Babylon in a few short years has obviously been recognized in the healthcare sector. It was only a matter of time before a merger surfaced to push Babylon further into the digital healthcare arena with a product that already has a massive appeal and patient penetration. With the SPAC deal with Alkuri Global, there is no doubt that Babylon is going to become the first global digital healthcare app reaching patients in remote areas, urban areas, and everywhere in-between providing accurate treatment plans and saving lives.