SoftBank-backed Pear Therapeutics agrees $1.6 billion SPAC deal

TOKYO (Reuters) - SoftBank-backed healthcare startup Pear Therapeutics has agreed to go public through a merger with Thimble Point Acquisition Corp, a blank cheque company affiliated with an heir of the Pritzker family, creating a business valued at $1.6 billion.

The deal announced on Tuesday will give the combined company $276 million in cash from Thimble Point’s trust account and a private investment in public equity (PIPE) of $125 million from investors including SoftBank, Temasek and 5AM Ventures.

Pear considered further private fund raising, a traditional listing and a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger before choosing the last following conversations with Thimble Point, its Chief Executive Corey McCann told Reuters.

Boston- and San Francisco-based Pear, which offers app-based therapy and tracking tools for patients in treatment for insomnia and substance abuse, plans to use the funding influx to expand commercial opportunities and develop new programmes.

SoftBank Group Corp’s $30 billion Vision Fund 2 led an $80 million Series D funding round in the startup in December. Pear is the latest SoftBank portfolio company to agree to a SPAC merger, with other examples including ride-hailer Grab.

Thimble Point screened over 100 companies and did due diligence on 30 before striking a deal with Pear, said the SPAC’s CEO Elon Boms, who is also managing director of the Pritzker Vlock Family Office, which manages the wealth of Karen Pritzker.

A second SPAC will launch in the “next week or two”, Boms said. The vehicles have raised record sums and offer targets an escape from the onerous reporting requirements of traditional listings, but have caught the attention of regulators.

“My opinion is that there are five to ten high quality managers that will evolve out of this, and we hope to be one of them,” said Boms.

The combined firm will list on the Nasdaq under the ticket symbol PEAR after the deal’s expected close in the second half of the year.

Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Jan Harvey