SoftBank-backed robotics firm Berkshire Grey to go public via $2.7b SPAC deal

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SoftBank-backed robotics firm Berkshire Grey said on Wednesday it has agreed to go public through a merger with a blank-check firm in a deal that values the combined company at $2.7 billion.

The deal is expected to provide Berkshire Grey about $413 million in cash, as the maker of logistics automation systems looks to take advantage of a surge in online shopping amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The proceeds include a private investment of $165 million anchored by venture capital investor Chamath Palihapitiya and funds and accounts managed by BlackRock Inc.

Palihapitiya has been one of the most prolific sponsors of special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), merging them with a range of companies – from space tourism firm Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc to home-selling platform Opendoor Technologies Inc.

The former Facebook executive has also taken part in PIPE (private investment in public equity) rounds of companies that went public through SPAC deals, including metal 3D printing technology provider Desktop Metal, rare earths miner MP Materials and electric bus manufacturer Proterra.

Current investors of Berkshire Grey, including venture capital firm Khosla Ventures, SoftBank Group Corp, Canaan Partners and New Enterprise Associates will be rolling their full equity stake into the combined entity.

Founded in 2013 by Chief Executive Officer Tom Wagner, Berkshire develops artificial intelligence-based logistics automation systems, which are used by its customers – Walmart Inc, Target Corp and FedEx Corp – in their warehouses and distribution centers.

SPACs are shell companies that raise money in an initial public offering to pursue an acquisition at a later date. They serve as an alternative to a traditional IPO for companies looking to enter public markets.

Berkshire Grey will merge with blank check firm Revolution Acceleration Acquisition Corp and trade on the Nasdaq after the deal closes.

Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC and J.P. Morgan Securities LLC served as exclusive financial advisers to Berkshire Grey and Revolution, respectively.

Reuters

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.