Finance: Tidjane Thiam’s SPAC to merge with USA’s Human Longevity

By Aurélie M'Bida
Posted on Monday, 27 June 2022 12:41

Tidjane Thiam pictured at RFI in Paris on 2 December, 2021. ©François Grivelet for Jeune Afrique

Human genome sequencing company HLI (Human Longevity Inc.) is planning to go public via a merger with Freedom Acquisition I Corp, launched by Franco-Ivorian financier Thiam. The combined company would be worth nearly $1bn.

In the end, it was a Californian jewel that caught the eye of Tidjane Thiam and his partners in Freedom Acquisition I Corp, which has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange since February 2021.

The former CEO of Credit Suisse plans to use his $345 million (nearly €328m) special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) to merge with HLI. The deal would bring the combined company’s value to nearly $1bn, according to a statement released by both entities.

The announcement, which came late on 20 June, follows the signing of a non-binding letter of intent, although both companies said there was no guarantee of a definitive agreement or a transaction. However, if the transaction is successful, the combined entity is expected to remain listed on the New York Stock Exchange under a new ticker symbol.

Genome sequencing

Founded in 2013 by Dr Craig Venter, touted as a pioneer in genome science, HLI is an artificial intelligence-based “personalised health intelligence” platform registered in San Diego. It combines human genome sequencing, quantitative whole-body MRI and blood biomarkers to enable early detection and mitigate the risk of serious diseases.

The company has invested more than $500m in research and development since 2013, with the aim of successfully predicting the risks – both lifetime and short-term – inherent in age-related chronic diseases. In 2016, HLI entered into a ten-year partnership with AstraZeneca to sequence and analyse patient samples from AstraZeneca clinical trials.

Thiam on board

Freedom Acquisition I Corp is led by its executive chairman, Tidjane Thiam, and its managing director, Adam Gishen, having been joined in June 2022 by Edward Zeng, an entrepreneur who has invested in the technology sector. The Franco-Ivorian financier is due to join the board of Human Longevity Inc. once the deal is finalised.

He had started discussions with HLI after separating from its historical sponsor – American investment managing firm PIMCO – which nevertheless remains a shareholder in the SPAC.

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