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U.K. healthcare startup Babylon is about to close a new round of funding at a valuation in excess of $1 billion, according to announcements from two of the company’s existing investors.
The announcements follow a report from The Financial Times saying Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund was preparing to invest in Babylon as the country seeks to diversify away from oil.
Founded by eccentric British-Iranian entrepreneur Ali Parsa in 2013, Babylon Health is an app that allows people to talk about their symptoms with a chatbot via their smartphone. They can also use the app to have a video call with a real doctor.
Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) has embraced the app allowing patients to replace their primary care doctor with a remote network of general practitioners. Since working with the NHS, Forbes has exclusively revealed ongoing criticism from doctors around the company’s handling of patients, including serious concerns around mental health cases.
Vostok New Ventures, an investment firm that was initially set up to capitalise on Russia’s oil and gas industry, confirmed in a statement on Wednesday that it was preparing to invest in Babylon’s latest funding round, adding that the final stage of the fund raise is under way. Vostok already holds a 10% stake in Babylon.
“Vostok New Ventures can confirm that preparations for a fundraise are ongoing and that the raise is in its final stage, but no agreement has been reached as of now,” said Vostok in a statement. “Final terms will be announced if and when an agreement between the parties is signed, expected this week. If completed, the transaction will assign a pre-money valuation of Babylon in excess of $1 billion.”
Swedish investment firm Kinnevik, which holds a 20% stake in Babylon, also confirmed it is preparing to invest in Babylon’s new funding round. If the funding round goes ahead later this week, early stage investors including Hoxton Ventures and DeepMind cofounder Demis Hassabis will likely see the value of their stakes surge.
Babylon declined to comment.