S'pore telco Circles.Life in talks for potential $3.5b merger with US-listed Spac

Founded in 2016, Circles.Life reached 5 per cent market share in Singapore in 2019. PHOTO: CIRCLESLIFESG/INSTAGRAM

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Bridgetown Holdings, the US-listed blank-cheque company backed by billionaires Peter Thiel and Richard Li, is considering a potential merger with Singapore digital telecom services provider Circles.Life, according to people familiar with the matter.

The special purpose acquisition company (Spac) is holding early talks with Circles.Life to explore a transaction, the people said. Bridgetown could seek a valuation for the combined entity of about US$1.5 billion to US$2.5 billion (S$2.1 billion to S$3.5 billion), the people said.

Considerations are preliminary and there is no guarantee an agreement could be reached, the people said. Bridgetown could also look at other targets for a merger, while Circles.Life could opt to pursue other transactions, they added.

Bridgetown 2 Holdings, another blank-cheque company backed by Mr Li and Mr Thiel, merged with real estate marketplace PropertyGuru earlier this year.

Founded in 2016, Circles.Life offers digital mobile services including voice, data, roaming and international calls, according to its website. The company reached 5 per cent market share in Singapore in 2019 and also has operations in Taiwan, Australia, Indonesia and Japan. Leading private equity firm Warburg Pincus made a "substantial investment" in Circles.Life in 2020, without disclosing the financial terms.

Representatives for Bridgetown, Circles.Life and Warburg Pincus declined to comment.

Enthusiasm for Spacs has waned amid heightened market volatility with a growing number of prominent deals fizzling out. Proposals to change US regulations for blank-cheque companies have also hurt sentiment in the once-heated sector. Earlier this week, billionaire investor Bill Ackman's Pershing Square Tontine Holdings told investors it was returning their US$4 billion after failing to consummate a merger deal.

Bridgetown raised US$595 million in a US initial public offering in 2020 with the goal of finding a target in the technology, financial services or media sectors in South-east Asia. The Spac had previously held talks with other targets including Indonesia's Traveloka, Bloomberg News has reported. It also considered a merger with e-commerce giant Tokopedia before the Indonesian firm merged with ride-hailing service provider Gojek, creating Internet firm GoTo Group.

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