Babylon Health shuts US operations, goes into UK receivership

Babylon reached the end of the runway, smack into the lights and barriers. In the US, Babylon Health shut its Austin, TX headquarters on Monday 7 August, the same date as the announcement of the termination of their merger with AlbaCore Capital and their MindMaze business [TTA 8 Aug]. The required filing of a closure notice with the Texas Workforce Commission came to light late yesterday. The layoff of 94 employees left in the office was immediate and the closure permanent. 

As of this writing, there is no change to their US website, but LinkedIn has many posts from the now laid-off. There are no statements from founder and CEO Ali Parsa.

No transition in the US for users. With the US office closure, there is no service for current contracts such as with Ambetter’s (Centene) commercial exchange product nor with other payers or value-based providers and plans, mainly in Medicaid, which have been using Babylon apps. According to the Forbes article published yesterday, users have found that their Babylon 360 app no longer works and have been redirected to their health plan for assistance.

“When Linda, a patient in New York who requested her last name not be used for privacy reasons, went to login for a scheduled therapy appointment today, she received the following message on her Babylon app, according to a screenshot. “Babylon’s clinical services and appointments are no longer available. For details about your health plan benefits and to find a new provider, contact your health plan.”

It appears that Babylon is putting the responsibility of the “transition” on patients and their insurance companies. An email Linda received from Babylon at 11:02 am ET said: “We know you may have questions about this change. Your health plan’s dedicated Member Services team can assist you. You can find your health plan’s contact information on your ID card.”

In the UK, Babylon has entered UK administration (=US bankruptcy). Its main product is GP At Hand which is still active and up for sale in the dissolution of the company. Last year, it exited its three contracts with NHS Trust hospitals two years into ten-year contracts [TTA 24 Aug 22, Wired], leaving Reading and Birmingham controversially [TTA 24 Aug 2022] but may have had a fourth continue with Hammersmith and Fulham in London, one of its earliest users back to 2018-19. GP At Hand is still active in London with about 100,000 users reported by Pulse but is only enrolling patients in Fulham (West London). No further information on the administration filing but that would likely be with the High Court in London as previously disclosed by Babylon.

It is quite stunning that a company that the UK’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock lauded as the future of healthcare in 2018 and plumped for at every turn, survived a beatdown on BBC Two’s Newsnight in February 2020, successfully went public in a US SPAC two years ago (Oct 2021) at a value of $4.2 billion/$272 per share, that entered the US and bought two large US medical practices, had operations in 16 countries and as of last December had 1,895 employees with 35% (660 people), in the US, has collapsed so completely and thoroughly. As of 4pm EDT today, their market capitalization was just above $425,000.

As to the non-US/UK operations and multiple user services in places like Rwanda and India–their fate is unknown. Perhaps another reason why Babylon, like its Biblical namesake, eventually collapsed.

FierceHealthcare, Computing (UK–may require free signup), BMJ, The Telegraph (via Yahoo Finance)  Our Babylon Health file here.  This story is developing. If you were a Babylon employee, you may email Editor Donna in confidence or leave a public comment below.

Babylon merger with AlbaCore and MindMaze collapses, selling UK and transitioning US businesses, bankruptcy anticipated

Babylon running out of runway, likely to hit the barriers and lights at the end unless there’s a miracle. On 7 August, Babylon, in a tersely written announcement, stated that their 23 June agreement to execute the ‘Take Private Proposal’ with AlbaCore Capital to merge with another of their holdings, MindMaze Group SA, has fallen through and will not proceed. No reasons were given for this surprising development six weeks later.

The release is headlined in the usual guarded terms of being “in discussions of new strategic alternatives” for their US and UK businesses but the reality is in the release copy.

  • Babylon is selling its UK businesses. The company is pursuing the divestiture of its UK business to third parties to provide financing to assure the continuity of Babylon’s operations. There is non-surprising coverage language in the release that “it cannot provide assurance that any of these initiatives will result in Babylon entering into a definitive agreement for or completing a divestiture” which means that the UK businesses may close without a transition. 
  • Babylon will be transitioning its US business to other providers. It is exiting its core US business. As to the transition, no providers are disclosed as of this time.
  • The sale of the Meritage Medical Network IPA is still pending.
  • After the bridge financing by AlbaCore Capital that was provided in May along with AlbaCore’s interim funding proposal of $34.5 million, Babylon is out of money. It is actively seeking additional financing but cannot assure that it will fund continued operations or that a third party sale will be executed in time.
  • This anticipates a complete shutdown of operations, not a reorganization. “The applicable entities of the Group will file for bankruptcy protection or implement other alternatives for an orderly wind down and liquidation or dissolution, which may include commencing Chapter 7 proceedings under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and/or a UK administration for the applicable entities of the Group in the near term.” For American readers, UK administration for insolvent companies is similar to US bankruptcy procedures in equivalents of US Chapter 11 reorganization and Chapter 7 asset sale and closing. Administrators for Babylon would be appointed by the High Court in London.

Any sales to third parties for any of the above are subject to AlbaCore approval. The proceeds will go to AlbaCore to settle Babylon’s indebtedness to them. As before, common shareholders of Babylon will be shut out as their shares are near worthless today at $0.28. 

Babylon is headquartered in Jersey (Channel Islands) along with Austin, Texas. The company was once a leader in the UK telehealth scene with remote consults and cooperative deals with GPs that received considerable criticism, then expansion to the US after their SPAC with Alkuri Global Acquisition in October 2021. Shares reflected the telehealth bull market of the time with a share price of $272 per share. The SPAC cracked like so many others, deflating shares to double then single digits to around $6 in May. Despite some success in the US market with payers, developing chronic care management programs for high-risk patients, reorganizing as a foreign private issuer to a domestic one, and the reverse share split on 15 December 2022, this last ‘rabbit out of hat’ didn’t work and apparently AlbaCore’s deal with a forced merger with a very different company, MindMaze in neurotherapeutics, didn’t work either. ‘Wicked Tuna’ indeed.

At present, there are no further announcements or changes on the website, nor any confirmed layoffs, a situation which undoubtedly will change.

Also Mobihealthnews, Healthcare Dive, Sifted (UK/EU), and UKTN