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Feb. 4, 2021, 7:46 a.m. EST

Genetic testing company 23andMe to go public via merger with Richard Branson's SPAC in $3.5 billion deal

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By Ciara Linnane

23andMe, a consumer genetics company, is going public via a merger with Richard Branson's special purpose acquisition corporation (SPAC) VG Acquisition Corp. , in a deal with an enterprise value of about $3.5 billion, the companies said Thursday. SPACs,or blank-check companies, raise money in an initial public offering and then have two years to acquire a business or businesses. They have become a popular vehicle for IPOs during the pandemic. Once the deal has closed, the company will change its ticker symbol to "ME" and trade on the New York Stock Exchange. 23andMe co-Founder Anne Wojcicki and Branson are investing $25 million in the company, which will have a pro forma cash balance of more than $900 million at closing. 23andMe offers individuals the chance to have their genes tested, providing them with information on health risks and ancestry. "Through a genetics-based approach, we fundamentally believe we can transform the continuum of healthcare.," Wojcicki said in a statement. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter. VG Acquisition shares jumped 12% premarket on the news.

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