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The Big Ones
Now ride hailing has matured past the stage where it requires multi-billion dollar rounds, one of the biggest fundraisers in recent months has been Rivian, an electric truck and SUV developer that won’t even have a product out until next year. It has however struck a deal to sell 100,000 electric delivery vans to strategic partner Amazon, and Amazon was among the investors that have provided $2.5bn in financing for the company. It has now raised a total of more than $6.1bn from an investor base also including Ford, Cox Automotive, Sumitomo and Abdul Latif Jameel.
UK-based oil and gas company BP revealed it intends to provide $70m for India and UK-focused cleantech investment vehicle Green Growth Equity Fund (GGEF). GGEF was formed to invest in India-based technology developers operating in fields such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, electric mobility and resource conservation. It has a target size of $700m and BP’s investment is set to close later this year. The government of India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and the UK Department for International Development are anchoring the vehicle, having each made a £120m ($170m) commitment at its April 2018 launch. The fund is managed by Eversource Capital, an India-based joint venture created by BP’s solar power subsidiary, Lightsource BP, and private equity and real estate investment firm Everstone Capital.
Ant Financial was valued at a gargantuan $150bn when it last raised money, through a $14bn series C round in 2018, but Alibaba’s financial services spinoff is reportedly seeking to go public as soon as this year in an initial public offering set to take place at a projected valuation exceeding $200bn. In addition to Alibaba, which owns about a third of the company, Ant’s shareholders include insurance group China Life and postal service China Post.
Vor Biopharma, a US-based cancer treatment developer spun out of Columbia University, has raised $110m in a series B round featuring spinout-focused investment firm Osage University Partners. RA Capital Management led the round, which also included healthcare group Johnson & Johnson, pharmaceutical companies PureTech Health, life science real estate investment trust Alexandria Real Estate Equities and financial services group Fidelity, as well as Pagliuca Family Office, 5AM Ventures and undisclosed backers. Vor Biopharma is working on engineered haematopoietic stem cell (eHSC) therapies that have biologically redundant proteins removed – essentially making the stem cells invisible to complementary treatments that target those proteins. The company’s lead asset, Vor33, is aimed at acute myeloid leukaemia and is expected to avoid toxicity to blood and bone marrow associated with current treatments.
Epic Games is no slouch, the Fortnite developer having secured $250m from Sony at a reported valuation not far from $18bn. Epic was reported last month to be in talks with institutional investors to raise $750m at a $17bn valuation, but Sony’s interest may well be linked to the forthcoming release of the Playstation 5 this Christmas. It’s worth mentioning Fortnite has been a goldmine not only for Epic but also for Sony, which gets a 30% cut of every sale made through its online store. The Playstation 4 has, by the way, sold more than 100 million units since its late 2017 debut.
Instacart has added $100m from T.Rowe Price to a late-stage round that now stands at $325m and which values it at $13.8bn post-money. The grocery delivery service’s earlier investors include American Express Ventures, Comcast Ventures and Whole Foods but none of them have invested since 2016, during which time its valuation has climbed from $2bn. General Catalyst, DST Global and D1 Capital Partners supplied the first $225m for the round.
There aren’t too many companies at the top end of the sector but developers of vegan dairy and meat substitutes have raised some big rounds in recent years. Perfect Day, which uses microflora in its vegan dairy proteins, has just secured another $160m from investors including Canada Pension Plan Investment Board to take its series C round to $300m. Perfect Day’s earlier backers include Continental Grain, which backed the company’s series A round two years ago.
Intel Capital has invested about $253m in Jio Platform, the mobile network service provider spun off by conglomerate Reliance Industries, getting a 0.4% stake at a valuation of more than $63bn. Jio has picked up a series of large investments in recent weeks including $5.7bn from Facebook and additional capital from the likes of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the Abu Dhabi government, L Catterton, TPG, Silver Lake Partners, General Atlantic, KKR and Vista Equity Partners.
Primary care provider VillageMD has received $250m in equity funding from pharmacy group Walgreens Boots Alliance as part of a three-year $1bn financing commitment that will involve the corporate providing a mixture of equity and convertible debt, giving it a 30% stake. The two have also formed a strategic alliance that will involve VillageMD opening clinics at hundreds of Walgreens Boots Alliance outlets over the next few years.
Newlink provides car refuelling and electric vehicle charging services in China through an online platform, and has received $129m in a series D round that included electronics producer Xiaomi and Nio Capital, the investment arm of smart EV manufacturer Nio. Xiaomi has pursued a long-term strategy of investing in consumer hardware developers to build an ecosystem around its products, but Nio has been an increasingly active investor in the transport tech and AI space, indicating it may well have similar ideas.
Multiple unnamed university endowments were yesterday revealed to have backed US-based venture capital firm Rethink Impact’s $182m second impact fund. The fund has also pulled in contributions from financial institutions including UBS in addition to Pivotal Ventures, the investment firm founded by Melinda Gates, and philanthropic investment offices Ford Foundation and WK Kellogg Foundation.
University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus yesterday closed a $50m healthcare-oriented fund with commitments from multiple university departments and affiliates. CU Healthcare Innovation Fund has been backed by University of Colorado along with its healthcare system UCHealth, medical school CU Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. All the LPs have a presence at Anschutz Medical Campus.
The latest decacorn to make the leap looks to be big data technology provider Palantir which said yesterday it has confidentially filed to go public. It’s still unclear whether Palantir, which rised $550m from Sompo Holdings and Fujitsu last month, will pursue an initial public offering or a direct listing but it will likely be among the year’s biggest listings either way. Its other backers include Relx subsidiary REV (née Reed Elsevier Ventures).
Orbital internet service developer OneWeb filed for bankruptcy in March having raised $3.4bn from investors including SoftBank, Qualcomm, Totalplay, Bharti Enterprises, Airbus, Virgin, Coca-Cola, Intelsat and Hughes Network Systems. Now however, one of those corporates – Bharti – has combined with the UK government to acquire the company at auction for just over $1bn. The deal is expected to formally go through by the end of the year once regulatory approval is provided by the US.
Open source software provider Suse has agreed to acquire Rancher Labs in a deal sources told CNBC will be in the $600m to $700m range. Rancher has developed a deployment and management tool for Kubernetes containerised application management software, and has raised $95m from investors including Telstra Ventures. This’ll be a fast exit for the unit too. It led Rancher’s $40m series D round less than four months ago.
Cambricon Technologies has priced its own initial public offering, which will raise $368m for the AI chipmaker. The company chose Shanghai’s Star Market, which is rapidly becoming a big player in world markets, particularly due to increased restrictions on Chinese tech companies looking to float in the US. It followed more than $200m in funding for Cambricon from investors including iFlytek, Alibaba, Lenovo, Tuling Century and Chinese Academy of Sciences.
University of Tübingen spinout Immatics has opted for neither option to get a public listing, instead executing a reverse merger with a Nasdaq-listed special purpose acquisition company. The Germany-based immuno-oncology drug developer had raised about $250m in equity funding from investors including Amgen but its market cap is currently hovering around the $5.6bn mark.
Another cancer drug developer, Nkarta Therapeutics, has set the range for an offering set to raise between $140m and $160m, though going by recent IPOs that figure may well end up rising. Nkarta’s investors include GlaxoSmithKline unit SR One and Novo – which each own a 13.3% stake – as well as Amgen Ventures. It last raised money through a $114m series B round in November.
Ucommune, generally regarded as China’s answer to WeWork, is however set to secure a US listing, through a reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company Orisun Acquisition Corp that will value the combined company at $769m. That in itself is significant. Ucommune doesn’t represent the same kind of disaster as WeWork but Covid-19 has hit its takings hard and that valuation is a big decline from the $1.5bn valuation at which it raised money in 2018. Its backers include Beijing Xingpai, Aikang, Dahong Group, Star Group, Junfa Group, Prosperity Holdings and Yintai Land.
“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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