By Arno Schuetze
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Swiss digital therapeutics firm MindMaze, backed by Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio, is considering a Nasdaq listing by merging with a SPAC, or blank check company, and has held talks with a series of U.S. suitors, people close to the matter said.
As an initial step to attract financing for growth and acquisitions, it has been talking to investors about raising more than $100 million in a deal valuing the company at more than $2 billion, they added.
MindMaze is working with Citi on the fundraising, which could involve a private placement or a convertible bond offering, they added.
Spokespeople for MindMaze and Citi declined to comment.
The timing of a planned stock market listing was fluid and could take place in late 2021 or in 2022, but one of the sources said the company had held discussions with several U.S. special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, over such a deal.
SPACs raise money via a stock market listing and then seek to merge within two years with a privately held company that becomes publicly traded as a result.
MindMaze offers therapeutic virtual reality (VR) games to help stroke patients in rehabilitation to train body movements, automatically measuring motions and giving advice on how to improve the recovery of motor skills and cognitive functions.
The VR-based neuro restoration technology firm was founded by neuroscientist Tej Tadi in Lausanne in 2012. In 2016, it attracted $100 million from investors including the Hinduja Group. Backers also include Swiss funds FIT and Venture Kick.
MindMaze posted revenues of less than $50 million last year and still makes a loss, but has strong prospects with mental health issues increasing steadily in aging societies.
The company also targets other diseases banking on its patents and clinical data, which makes it an attractive partner for pharmaceutical and medical device firms.
“Our technology is scalable and currently being applied to address seven to eight different diseases where patients suffer from movement and cognitive disabilities,” Tadi, who is also MindMaze’s chief executive, told Reuters.
Those diseases included Parkinson’s, dementia, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis, he said, adding the firm was building software and hardware to fight multiple diseases through its digital therapeutics.
(Additional reporting by Oliver Hirt; Editing by Edmund Blair)