Phone cracking firm Cellebrite to list on Nasdaq via SPAC merger

Cellebrite, which has come under scrutiny of human rights groups, says it will merge with TWC Tech Holdings II Corp at valuation of $2.4 billion

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

The Nasdaq building in Times Square in New York. (littleny, iStock by Getty Images)
The Nasdaq building in Times Square in New York. (littleny, iStock by Getty Images)

Cellebrite DI Ltd., a firm that has come under scrutiny from human rights groups for its digital forensic technologies, said Thursday it has entered an agreement to merge with TWC Tech Holdings II Corp, a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

As a result of the transaction, Cellebrite will become a publicly listed company on the Nasdaq under the new ticker symbol “CLBT.” The pro forma implied equity value of Cellebrite post-merger is expected to be approximately $2.4 billion, the companies said in a statement.

In the statement, Cellebrite said its mission “is to enable its customers to protect and save lives, accelerate justice and preserve privacy in communities around the world.”

The firm “empowers public and private sector customers, including federal, state and local public safety agencies and private sector enterprises, to manage Digital Intelligence in legally sanctioned investigations,” the company said.

Yossi Carmil, the CEO of Cellebrite (Shlomi Yosef)

Last year, human rights groups asked Israel’s Defense Ministry body that monitors exports to immediately halt the sale of Cellebrite’s phone hacking technology to Belarus, arguing that it should be subject to the same strict guidelines as military equipment.

The Petah Tikva-based Cellebrite was reportedly also the company the FBI used in 2016 to hack into the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter after Apple refused the US government’s request to build a backdoor into its famously secure operating system.

Cellebrite’s technology does not work remotely. It requires a specially designed device to be physically connected to the phone being hacked.

Cellebrite’s solutions have been purchased by 6,700 public safety agencies and private sector enterprises in over 140 countries and have helped millions of investigations globally, Thursday’s statement said.

The deal is expected to provide up to $480 million of gross cash proceeds to the firm, the statement said. The firm generated revenues of some $195 million in 2020.

The boards of directors of Cellebrite and TWC Tech Holdings unanimously approved the transaction, which is expected to close in the second or third quarter of 2021, the statement said.

TWC Tech Holdings raised $600 million in its initial public offering in
September 2020.

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