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Serena Williams-backed SPAC to take printing firm Velo3D public at $1.6 billion valuation

(Reuters) -Velo3D Inc will merge with a blank-check company backed by tennis star Serena Williams, in a deal that takes the 3D printing technology venture public at a combined value of $1.6 billion, the companies said on Tuesday.

The deal with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Jaws Spitfire Acquisition Corp includes $155 million from Baron Capital Group, Hedosophia and other private investors and confirms an earlier report here by Reuters. It will fetch $500 million in proceeds for the combined company.

Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion who joined Jaws Spitfire’s board in December to lend her expertise “as an entrepreneur, investor and brand-builder”, has long been an investor in early-stage companies.

She formed her own venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, in 2014 to back startups that “support diverse leadership, individual empowerment and creativity.”

Williams’ firm has invested in more than 50 companies with a total market value of $14 billion, including online learning platform MasterClass and tech company Propel, its website showed. Silicon Valley-based Velo3D was founded in 2015 and supplies hardware and software in 3D printing technology to industrial clients, including aerospace manufacturer SpaceX.

The company has previously raised $138 million from investors including venture capital firms Bessemer Venture Partners and Khosla Ventures.

Other 3D printing-focused SPAC deals announced in recent months include Markforged and Desktop Metal Inc. SPACs are shell firms that allow companies to go public with less regulatory scrutiny than a traditional initial public offering. Jaws Spitfire was launched last year by Starwood Capital Group chairman Barry Sternlicht and raised $300 million in an initial public offering in December.

After the merger is completed, the combined company will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “VLD”.

Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.

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