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By Noor Zainab Hussain
March 16 (Reuters) - Online stock brokerage eToro said on Tuesday it will go public through a merger with a blank-check firm backed by banking entrepreneur Betsy Cohen in a $10.4 billion deal, with investment from SoftBank's Vision Fund 2.
EToro competes with Robinhood, which has become hugely popular with young investors for its easy-to-use interface. Robinhood has emerged as a gateway for amateur traders challenging Wall Street hedge funds.
The deal with FinTech Acquisition Corp V, a special purpose acquisition company, will include a $650 investment from investors including Fidelity Management & Research Co LLC and Wellington Management.
Founded in 2007, eToro has 20 million registered users who can manually invest in cryptocurrencies, stocks, commodities and more, while those who lack time or experience can automatically copy the trades of others on the platform.
Special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, are shell companies that use proceeds from an IPO to take private firms public. FinTech Acquisition Corp V's shares jumped more than 15% before the bell.
Cohen, who founded Jefferson Bank and Bancorp Inc, is one of the prominent businesswomen who have joined the SPAC frenzy.
EToro joins a wave of Israeli tech companies and startups including mobile gaming company Playtika Holding Corp, that are going public in the U.S. to take advantage of the capital markets boom.
In 2020, eToro added over 5 million new registered users and generated gross revenue of $605 million, a 147% jump from a year earlier.
EToro will allow users in the U.S., who currently trade in cryptocurrencies, the option to buy and sell stocks later this year. Clients outside the U.S. can invest in fractional stocks, or parts of shares.
Bitcoin accounts for one of every 25 positions opened on eToro, while the most popular stocks are Tesla Inc, Microsoft Corp and Apple Inc, according to the company's website. (Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Shounak Dasgupta)