Mobile bank MoneyLion to go public via blank-check merger in $2.9 billion deal

FILE PHOTO: MoneyLion, a digital consumer finance platform, displays in the lobby of the exhibit hall during the Money 20/20 conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. on October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Steve Marcus/File Photo

(Reuters) - Mobile banking platform MoneyLion Inc said on Friday it has agreed to go public through a merger with blank-check firm Fusion Acquisition Corp, in a deal that values the equity of the combined company at $2.9 billion.

MoneyLion said it expects the combined company, which will have an enterprise value of $2.4 billion, to get $526 million in cash proceeds.

The deal will be supported by a $250 million private investment from funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, affiliates of Apollo Global Management and others.

New York-based fintech company MoneyLion was founded in 2013 and is led by co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Diwakar Choubey, a Wall Street executive who has held senior positions at Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Citadel and Barclays PLC.

The platform uses machine learning to provide its customers access to small loans in addition to financial advisory and investment services through its mobile app.

SPACs, or special purpose acquisition companies like Fusion, raise money through an initial public offering (IPO) to acquire a private company, which becomes public as a result of the merger.

Online lending startup Social Finance Inc (SoFi) also agreed to be taken public by a blank-check firm backed by venture capital investor Chamath Palihapitiya in January at a $8.65 billion valuation.

Such mergers have gained popularity over the past year since it allows companies, which are looking to go public, to bypass the meticulous scrutiny involved in an IPO and also offers more stability in terms of valuation.

Reporting by Niket Nishant and Sohini Podder in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Shinjini Ganguli