(Bloomberg) — Babylon, the medical startup that connects patients and doctors via an app, is close to agreeing a deal to go public in a merger with blank-check company Alkuri Global Acquisition Corp., according to people familiar with the matter.Talks between Babylon and Alkuri, which is run by former Groupon Inc. executives, are in the advanced stages and a deal could be announced as soon as next week, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information.The deal could value Babylon at about $3.5 billion, the people said. Alkuri has lined up investors to provide about $270 million of private investment in public equity to support the deal, the people said. It’s going ahead even as those financing PIPE deals begin writing smaller checks, which has delayed some transactions.Shares of Alkuri rose 1.1% to $9.82 at 11:03 a.m. Friday in New York, hitting their highest intraday level in more than a month.Talks are ongoing and could still be delayed or fall apart, according to the people. Representatives for Alkuri and Babylon declined to comment.Alkuri is a special purpose acquisition company led by Groupon’s ex-chief executive officer Rich Williams and former chief operating officer Steve Krenzer, who left those roles last year after turnaround plans for the online discount provider faltered. Sultan Almaadeed, a former executive at the Qatar Investment Authority, is Alkuri’s chairman.Founded in 2013, Babylon’s app lets users schedule a video chat with a doctor, check symptoms or book time with specialists, such as therapists. It can be used to seek advice and treatment for conditions ranging from hair loss to chronic kidney disease, according to its website.In 2019, Babylon raised $550 million in a funding round valuing the business at more than $2 billion. Its backers include Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, Munich Re Ventures, Kinnevik AB, the family of Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris and Vostok New Ventures.The company earlier explored a merger with a SPAC backed by financier Alec Gores before talks fell apart, Bloomberg News reported in April. It also attracted interest from Freedom Acquisition I Corp., the SPAC raised by former Credit Suisse Group AG CEO Tidjane Thiam, as well as a vehicle from Klaus Kleinfeld, the former head of Arconic.(Updates with details of funding round, investors in penultimate paragraph)More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
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