Apex Clearing Holdings, a digital clearing and custody engine provider, has agreed to merge with blank check firm Northern Star Investment Corp. II in a bid to go public.

The transaction offers Apex a total enterprise value of nearly $4.7bn and is anticipated to generate up to $850m in gross cash proceeds, according to a statement.

The firm plans to use the proceeds to ramp up and support the development of its platform and partially lower its debt obligations.

The firm would be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol APX upon the completion of the merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Northern Star in the second quarter of this year.

Northern Star chairwoman and CEO Joanna Coles said: “The Company is constantly innovating by offering solutions like fractional share trading and crypto trading in real time that is leading the democratization of investing. Apex is at the nexus of the digital financial services revolution and is poised to thrive amid the powerful secular tailwinds and generational shift towards digitization of investment management.

As part of the deal, Apex CEO William Capuzzi and its president Tricia Rothschild will retain their existing positions. Coles will secure a seat on the merged entity’s board.

The deal has already secured the clearance from the two companies’ boards and is now pending shareholders’ and regulatory approvals.

Apex Clearing enables its customers to instantly open and fund an account, carry out trades across different asset classes, and streamline digital asset movement. Its customers include online brokerages, traditional wealth managers, wealth-tech, and professional traders.

Its offerings serve as the infrastructure for an addressable market of over $100trn in assets.

Capuzzi noted: “We are in the first inning of the digital revolution in financial services, and our merger with Northern Star will provide Apex with the resources and flexibility to accelerate our growth, scale our platform, and expand our offerings and market share alongside our clients.

“We are pleased to partner with Joanna Coles and Jon Ledecky at this incredibly exciting time for Apex as we strive to bring financial services into the 21st century and make investing accessible for everyone.”

Last December, investment firms Owl Rock Capital Group and Dyal Capital Partners agreed to combine and go public through SPAC Altimar Acquisition.

Earlier in 2020, GCM Grosvenor, a $57bn alternative asset manager based in Chicago, announced plans to go public through merger with SPAC sponsored by Cantor Fitzgerald.