Exclusive: British auto data start-up Wejo in talks to go public in $2 billion SPAC deal - sources

(Reuters) - Wejo is closing in on a deal to go public through a reverse merger with a blank-check company that would value the British connected car data start-up at more than $2 billion, two people familiar with the matter said.

Wejo, which organizes data from about 15 million connected vehicles for such clients as General Motors Co, Hyundai Motor Co and Daimler, is still working to finalize a deal with a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, said the sources, who asked not to be identified.

The Manchester-based company is being advised by Citigroup, the sources said.

Wejo declined to comment.

SPACs are shell companies that raise funds to acquire a private company with the purpose of taking it public, allowing such targets to sidestep a traditional IPO to enter public markets.

Wejo estimates that by 2030, 72 million new vehicles sold worldwide will be connected, creating an opportunity for revenue streams and more services for automakers and their customers, as well as greater efficiency for companies in product development. Wejo’s technology platform, ADEPT, allows automakers to organize the data collected in those vehicles.

The company is led by Chief Executive and founder Richard Barlow and Chairman Tim Lee, a former GM executive.

Founded in 2014, Wejo, which stands for “we journey,” has raised $157 million according to PitchBook from such investors as GM, which acquired a significant stake in 2019, German auto supplier Hella, DIP Capital and the British government.

On Feb. 1, Wejo’s Israeli rival Otonomo said it would go public through a merger with a SPAC, Software Acquisition Group Inc II, at a valuation of $1.4 billion.

Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit, Anirban Sen in Bengaluru; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama