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    AZN   GB0009895292


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Odyssey buys drugmaker BenevolentAI in Europe's biggest SPAC deal

12/06/2021 | 12:37pm EST

LONDON, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Amsterdam-listed Odyssey has agreed to buy BenevolentAI in a deal valuing the British-based pharmaceuticals firm at up to 1.5 billion euros after the transaction, the biggest acquisition by a European special purpose acquisition vehicle (SPACs) to date.

Odyssey, a 300 million euro ($338 million) SPAC backed by the founders of M&A advisory Zaoui & Co and the former head of Natixis Investment Managers, will raise an additional 135 million euros to pay for the deal and cover transaction fees.

Net transaction proceeds from the deal are up to 390 million euros and the money is being raised from investors including Singapore's Temasek and drugmaker AstraZeneca.

In a statement, the companies said their deal represents the largest European SPAC merger to date and one of Amsterdam's biggest biotech listings.

Several SPACs have listed in Amsterdam, potentially boosting the Dutch financial capital's credentials as a hub for fast-growing companies. London has only hosted one major SPAC in 2021, after updating its rules to make them easier.

Blank cheque vehicles allow companies to obtain a market listing without going through an initial public offering (IPO).

BenevolentAI's Chief Executive Joanna Shields said it had developed an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that allowed it to understand the underlying causes of a disease and increase the probability that a candidate drug will succeed.

With more than 20 programmes in its portfolio, BenevolentAI needed capital to scale its pipeline, she said. It had been considering a crossover fund raise later this year and a listing next year, before the opportunity offered by Odyssey.

"There was a real synergy between the teams," she said. "It's a fast route to a large pool of capital."

Olivier Brandicourt, former Sanofi CEO, and Jean Raby, former CEO of Natixis, will join BenevolentAI's board. ($1 = 0.8855 euros) (Reporting by Emma-Victoria Farr, Abhinav Ramnarayan and Paul Sandle; Editing by Rachel Armstrong and Alexander Smith)

© Reuters 2021
Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
ASTRAZENECA PLC -1.11% 8744 Delayed Quote.0.85%
SANOFI -2.13% 90.94 Real-time Quote.2.66%
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Sales 2021 36 096 M - -
Net income 2021 2 714 M - -
Net Debt 2021 24 816 M - -
P/E ratio 2021 57,3x
Yield 2021 2,37%
Capitalization 184 B 184 B -
EV / Sales 2021 5,78x
EV / Sales 2022 4,73x
Nbr of Employees 76 100
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Aradhana Sarin Chief Financial Officer & Executive Director
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Menelas NICOLAS Pangalos EVP-Biopharmaceuticals Research & Development
Pam P. Cheng Executive VP-Operations & Information Technology
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