Driverless Truck Startup Plus Plans Hennessy SPAC Deal

Self-driving truck startup Plus is in talks to merge with special purpose acquisition company Hennessy Capital Investment Corp. V, according to people familiar with the matter, making it the latest autonomous vehicle maker seeking to go public via a blank-check firm.

Sequoia Capital China-backed Plus is set to have a valuation of more than $3 billion and raise $500 million to $600 million through the deal, which includes proceeds from the SPAC and new equity raised, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. BlackRock Inc. — already a Hennessy investor — is discussing putting in more money through a so-called private investment in public equity, or PIPE, the person said.

The parties could reach an agreement as soon as next week, the person said. Negotiations are ongoing and subject to change. Representatives for Plus and BlackRock declined to comment. A representative for Hennessy didn’t immediately respond to queries.

Cupertino, California-based Plus is among a handful of startups trying to up-end a fragmented long-haul trucking business with driverless technology. It has been working with Chinese delivery company SF Holding Co., which uses Plus-enabled trucks that can cover 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) a day, according to Plus. State-owned China FAW Group Co. plans to start mass production of jointly-developed autonomous trucks this quarter, Plus has said.

The Hennessy SPAC raised $345 million in a January initial public offering. Chief Executive Daniel J. Hennessy previously led blank-check firms that completed deals to form companies including electric-vehicle developer Canoo Inc., Blue Bird Corp., which makes school buses, and Texas-based transportation and logistics firm Daseke Inc.