Africa’s Heirs Holdings Portfolio Company, Planet Labs, is Going Public

Image Source: Planet Lab

Planet Labs, a leading Earth-imaging business with 462 satellites launched to date captures daily data about how the globe is changing, has struck a USD 2.8 billion deal to become a public company. With over 600 customers, Planet made USD 113 million in revenue last year and will be hoping to grow annual revenue to USD 700 million by 2026.

According to Financial Times, the company will merge with dMY Technology Group IV, a special purpose acquisition company listed on NYSE, raising net proceeds of USD 434 million, after transaction expenses and paying down debt. The deal is expected to give the combined business an equity value of about USD 2.8 billion when it closes in the fourth quarter of 2021. The deal includes a USD 200 million private investment in public equity, or Pipe financing, led by clients of BlackRock, as well as Google, Salesforce founder Marc Benioff’s Time Ventures, and energy group Koch.

Planet Lab had previously raised more than USD 380 million in capital from investors including Google, DFJ, Lux Capital, DCVC, Founders Fund, Space Capital, Heirs Holdings and more.

In 2014, during the early days of Planet Labs, Africa’s Heirs Holdings Illustrated its global ambitions by investing in Planet Labs. The investment made Heirs Holdings the only African investor in the company. Founded by Nigerian Economist, Tony Elumelu, Heirs Holdings investment portfolio spans the power, oil and gas, financial services, hospitality, real estate and healthcare sectors, operating in twenty-three countries worldwide. It also operates a philanthropic Foundation catalysing entrepreneurship across Africa, through the USD 100 million Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme, advocacy and research.

Many other space companies have gone public through SPAC deals in recent years, including Virgin Galactic, Astra, and AST & Science, while other companies like Rocket Lab, Spire Global, BlackSky, Redwire, Satellogic and Momentus are expected to follow the trend in coming months.

Planet Lab is now transitioning from a satellite business to a data business, hoping to become the “Bloomberg terminal for Earth data”.

This is not the first time African entities will be investing in foreign space companies. In 2019, before it went bankrupt, OneWeb raised USD 1.25 billion in new capital from SoftBank Group Corp., Grupo Salinas, Qualcomm Technologies Inc., and the Government of Rwanda. The NewSpace industry in Africa is also growing with over 283 companies in 31 African countries operating in the industry value chain, both upstream and downstream, according to the NewSpace Africa Industry Report, 2021 Edition.


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