SoftBank-backed Better to go public in $7.7 bln SPAC deal

U.S. dollar bills blow near the Andalusian capital of Seville in this photo illustration taken on November 16, 2014. REUTERS/Marcelo Del Pozo

May 11 (Reuters) - SoftBank Group Corp-backed (9984.T) Better HoldCo said on Tuesday it will go public through a merger with a blank-check firm sponsored by investment firm Novator Capital, valuing the mortgage startup at $7.7 billion.

As part of the deal with Aurora Acquisition Corp (AURC.O), SoftBank will invest $1.5 billion, giving Better a pre-money valuation of $6.9 billion.

The Japanese conglomerate, which invested $500 million earlier this year, is raising its bets on the startup as pandemic and historically low mortgage rates fuel a boom in the online mortgage space.

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The deal will provide $778 million in proceeds for Better. Novator Capital will also invest $200 million in the deal.

Founded in 2016 and headquartered in New York, Better offers mortgage and insurance products to homeowners through its online platform. It says its customers can get their loans closed in as little as two weeks.

Wall Street's biggest gold rush of recent years, SPACs are listed companies that have no regular business operations but typically find a company to merge with, thereby taking the target company public.

Earlier in the day, biotech company Ginkgo Bioworks announced a $17.5 billion mega-merger with Soaring Eagle Acquisition Corp (SRNG.O).

The deals point to a rebound in dealmaking activity in the blank-check space after a lull spurred by weak investor appetite and greater regulatory scrutiny.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is weighing new guidance to rein in growth projections made by listed blank-check companies, Reuters reported last month. read more

This follows the suggestion from the regulator that SPACs account their warrants as liabilities instead of equity instruments.

The SEC directive has led companies including DraftKings (DKNG.O) and Virgin Galactic (SPCE.N), which went public through blank-check mergers, to amend their financials. read more

BofA Securities is the financial adviser to Better, while Barclays advised Aurora.

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Reporting by Niket Nishant and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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