Finance

Guess which Spac Leonardo DiCaprio and Orlando Bloom invested in?

Sustainability-focused financial technology firm Aspiration Partners is going public through a deal with a special-purpose acquisition company that would value it at about $2.3bn, the companies said.

Marina del Rey, California-based Aspiration offers what it calls “sustainability as a service” – a suite of banking services, credit cards and investment products that are designed to keep deposits out of fossil fuels and generate other environmental benefits, for example by funding tree-planting with every card purchase.

The combination with InterPrivate III Financial Partners could bring more than $400m in net cash proceeds for the company, including $258.8m in cash held by the Spac in trust and a $200m private investment in public equity, the companies said on 18 August. Aspiration plans to use the proceeds for initiatives like marketing and further investment in technology, the companies said.

Aspiration’s investors include Leonardo DiCaprio, Orlando Bloom, Cindy Crawford and Robert Downey Jr.’s Footprint Coalition Ventures. The PIPE investors in the deal include Financière Agache, the family office of luxury-goods billionaire Bernard Arnault; Doha Venture Capital; Capricorn Investment Group; Serengeti Asset Management; Brand Capital International; Western & Southern Life Insurance; InterPrivate Capital; AGO Partners; and the rapper Drake.

Spacs, shell companies that raise money with the sole purpose of looking for a target to merge with and take public, have exploded in popularity as companies seek alternatives to a traditional initial public offering. Such ventures typically have two years to find a target.

Launched in 2015, Aspiration was part of a broader push intended to disrupt banking by promising customers no-fee banking services and other financial products. By using language like “Do Well. Do Good” and “Leave your bank, save the planet,” Aspiration aims to attract customers who are concerned with the fossil fuel projects that traditional banks may back. The company isn’t a bank, but rather works with specialty institutions to offer its services.

Aspiration said more than 5 million Americans have signed up as members. The company has a revenue run rate of more than $100m as of June, it said. It will become a public benefit corporation under Delaware law at the closing of the transaction, the companies said.

Other financial services companies have also created products with a sustainability focus. For instance, Swedish fintech start-up Doconomy AB has partnered with Mastercard and BNP Paribas-owned Bank of the West to help customers measure the emissions of their purchases.

Andrei Cherny, Aspiration’s chief executive and co-founder who also worked as a speechwriter for former Vice President Al Gore, will continue to lead the combined entity, while Aspiration co-founder and board member Joe Sanberg will continue to serve on the board, the companies said.

The companies expect the deal to close in the fourth quarter. The combined business is expected to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “ASP,” the companies said.

Write to Dave Sebastian at [email protected]

This article was published by Dow Jones Newswires

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