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EV scooter startup Bird to go public in $2.3 bln blank-check deal

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File photo: Bird electric scooters are parked in the Ocean Beach neighbourhood of San Diego, California, U.S., ahead of the Fourth of July holiday July 3, 2020. REUTERS/Bing Guan

May 11 (Reuters) - Bird Rides said on Wednesday it would merge with blank-check company Switchback II Corp (SWBK.N) to go public in a deal valuing the electric scooter rental company at $2.3 billion.

The scooter startup said the deal would be supported by a private investment of $160 million from Fidelity Management & Research Co and other investors, and provide $428 million in cash to the combined entity.

The company plans to use the proceeds to expand into more cities by partnering with local entrepreneurs to manage its fleets, and offer electric bike rental and retail services, Travis VanderZanden, founder and chief executive of Bird, said in an interview.

Venice, California-based Bird reported $95 million in revenue in 2020, a 37% drop year-over-year under the impact of the lockdowns during the global pandemic. It has seen business recovering in the first quarter of 2021 in major cities, and expects $188 million in annual revenue for the whole year.

Founded in 2017, Bird operates its shared scooters in over 200 cities. It will be renamed Bird Global and will list on the New York Stock Exchange after the deal closes in the third quarter, the company said.

Switchback II Corp went public in a $275 million initial public offering in January this year. SPACs are listed companies that use the proceeds from an IPO to buy a private firm and take it public. (https://prn.to/3eFUIqV)

The sponsor's first SPAC brought electric vehicle charging network ChargePoint (CHPT.N) public in a $2.4 billion deal last year.

Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel

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