Printing tech firm Velo3D nears deal with Serena Williams-backed SPAC to go public: sources

(Reuters) - Velo3D, a 3D printing technology firm, is nearing a deal to go public at a valuation of $1.6 billion by merging with Jaws Spitfire Acquisition Corp, a blank-check firm that counts tennis star Serena Williams among its board directors, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

The deal, which could be announced as soon as Tuesday, is the latest example of a 3D printing company going public by merging with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), following similar deals announced in recent months by peers Markforged and Desktop Metal Inc.

The merger has attracted $155 million from institutional investors including Baron Capital Group and Hedosophia in the form of a private investment in public equity (PIPE) transaction, sources added.

The sources requested anonymity ahead of an official announcement. Velo3D and Jaws Spitfire Acquisition Corp declined to comment.

3D printing produces three-dimensional solid objects based on digital drawings. It was originally used for making product protoypes, but its applications are expanding to industrial-scale production.

Founded in 2015, Velo3D generated $20 million in revenue in 2020, one of the sources said. It supplies hardware and software in 3D printing technology to industrial clients, including aerospace manufacturer SpaceX, to help ramp up their production.

Silicon Valley-based Velo3D, which has yet to turn a profit, has previously raised $138 million from investors, such as venture capital firms Bessemer Venture Partners and Khosla Ventures.

Jaws Spitfire Acquisition Corp was launched last year by Starwood Capital Group chairman Barry Sternlicht and raised $300 million in an initial public offering in December. When Williams joined its board, it said in a statement she would lend her expertise “as an entrepreneur, investor and brand-builder” to find investments in the technology sector.

SPACs are shell companies that raise money in an IPO to pursue an acquisition at a later date. They serve as an alternative to a traditional IPO for companies looking to enter public markets.

Reporting by Krystal Hu in New York; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa