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.