Bill Gates-backed Heliogen to go public through US$2 bil SPAC deal

Bill Gates

Bill Gates

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BENGALURU (July 7): Bill Gates-backed solar power firm Heliogen Inc will merge with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) to go public in a deal that values the combined entity at about US$2 billion, the companies said on Wednesday.

The merger with Athena Technology Acquisition Corp, a women-led SPAC that raised US$250 million in its initial public offering in March, will generate US$415 million of proceeds for the combined company.

The proceeds include a US$165 million private investment in public equity, or PIPE, from investors such as Morgan Stanley's investment arm Counterpoint Global, Salient Partners and Saba Capital.

The SPAC is led by Chief Executive Officer Phyllis Newhouse, a retired military officer and cybersecurity veteran, and venture capitalist Isabelle Freidheim, who also co-founded fintech firm Magnifi.

SPACs use the pool of capital they raise through their own initial public offerings to merge with a private company, in a deal that then takes it public.

Heliogen's SPAC deal comes at a time when US solar installations are on track for record-breaking growth over the next three years, according to an industry report released last month.

But the solar industry faces challenges from supply chain bottlenecks and a tight labor market that could lead to slower growth, even as governments ramp up their efforts to fight climate change.

Post-merger, the combined company will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "HLGN".