Babylon chief Ali Parsa will have a 26pc stake

Credit: Eddie Mulholland/Telegraph

The founder of the virtual doctor app Babylon is set to join the ranks of Britain’s technology billionaires after the company announced a $4.2bn (£3bn) US listing.

Ali Parsa, who founded Chelsea-based Babylon in 2013, is set to own a 26pc stake in the company, worth $1.1bn, when it completes a reverse merger with Alkuri Global, a New York-listed blank cheque company.

It makes Babylon the latest UK tech start-up to shun the London Stock Exchange in favour of a “Spac” listing in America, where technology companies say they can achieve higher valuations.

British companies including electric vehicle maker Arrival, second-hand car marketplace Cazoo, quantum encryption firm Arqit and vehicle data company Wejo have all chosen to go public through Spacs, which offer a convenient route to market for companies with high growth expectations.

As part of the deal announced on Thursday, Babylon will raise $230m from investors including Palantir, the controversial data analytics company backed by the CIA that has worked with the NHS.

Babylon’s GP at Hand app, which allows patients to run their symptoms through a chatbot and speak to their doctor over video call, has been praised by Health Secretary Matt Hancock. It has around 90,000 NHS patients on its books, although most of its business is now based in the US, where the company launched last year.

Babylon said revenues had grown fivefold last year to $79m, and forecast sales of $321m in 2021 and $710m in 2022. It said it lost $142m last year on an Ebitda basis, a measure of profitability, but expected this to turn positive in 2023.

Mr Parsa, a British-Iranian former investment banker, founded Babylon after leaving his previous venture Circle, after the private hospital manager fell into financial trouble.

The company has faced criticism over the accuracy of the AI algorithm that triages health concerns. Babylon’s investor presentation said it had overwhelmingly positive approval ratings from patients and that it could dramatically cut healthcare costs.