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DNA-testing firm 23andMe to go public as a $3.5 billion through Richard Branson-backed SPAC deal
23andme test kit
23andme test kit Credit: Nicki Dugan Pogue (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

A blank-check firm, backed by Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, is taking consumer DNA-testing firm 23andMe public in a deal that values the merged entity at $3.5 billion, both companies said on Thursday. The company will trade under the symbol “ME” on the New York Stock Exchange.

A SPAC, or a blank-check firm, is a shell company that raises funds in an initial public offering (IPO) to acquire a private company, becoming public due to the merger.

Over the years, 23andMe has become popular with consumers, and in 2018 caught the eye of GlaxoSmithKline, which invested $300 million in the Silicon Valley company, best known for its saliva-based test kits that offer users a glimpse into their genetic ancestry.