Sajan Pillai-promoted McLaren Technology raises $201 mn; to focus on digital startups
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McLaren Technology Acquisition Corp., promoted by former UST Global chief executive officer Sajan Pillai, has raised Rs 1,500 crore ($201 million) for its special purpose acquisition vehicle (SPAC) that is focused on the banking and insuretech space.

The company plans to use funds from the SPAC to acquire startups in the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector that leverage artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and other digital technologies. It will focus on companies with an enterprise valuation between $600 million and $2 billion.

A SPAC is a blank cheque firm floated by a sponsor who raises capital via an initial public offering (IPO), with a view towards acquiring and merging with a target. McLaren's stock debuted on Nasdaq at $10.05 and closed at $10.07, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

This is the second Indian-promoted SPAC to go for a listing at Nasdaq after India's largest renewable energy firm ReNew Power earlier in February agreed to float by merging into RMG Acquisition Corporation II, a blank-cheque firm listed in the US. ReNew Power completed its merger with the Nasdaq-listed special purpose acquisition vehicle in August.

Pillai, chairman and CEO of McLaren, said in the statement that the company will soon deploy a senior-level team in India to collaborate with later-stage companies that are looking to go public on Nasdaq.

Pillai holds patents in internet computing and data systems. He was earlier CEO at UST Global where he worked for over 20 years before quitting in 2019. As its CEO, he had built UST Global into a $1 billion technology services company. 

His Season Two Ventures has made bets on companies such as Warehouse Now, an on-demand and flexible warehousing startup; Ambee, which is building postcode, neighbourhood, and street-level data and analytics on air quality; Hilabs, which uses AI to assist health organizations to analyse data and draw insights; and Uvik Technologies, which has developed an app-based POS (point of sale) solution sans any hardware.

In an interaction with VCCircle last year, Pillai had said the venture capital firm's first fund aims to allocate 75-80% of the capital for India and the remaining for the US.

McLaren's offering included 2.625 million units issued to underwriters upon full exercise of their overallotment option.

SPACs had become the buzzword in India earlier this year after ReNew Power's plans to list on Nasdaq via a blank cheque firm as it had opened the door for multiple other Indian firms to explore a similar option.

Mumbai-based venture capital firm Elevation Capital, too, had filed for a $225 million SPAC in March with a view towards acquiring India-based technology targets.

Flipkart and Grofers were also considering SPAC listings earlier this year, a Bloomberg report had said.

Other renewables companies were also considering following ReNew Power, in a sign that at least technology and renewable energy firms are looking at SPACs as a way to get a better valuation abroad. Globally, most top investors such as KKR, TPG, Blackstone, Softbank have raised SPAC vehicles in recent times.

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