Blank-cheque IPOs show time is money with speedier deal chases

Blank-cheque IPOs show time is money with speedier deal chases
-A +A

(Aug 2): SPAC bosses are finding they have to speed up their deal hunt if they want to attract investors these days.

About half the blank-cheque companies that filed for US listings since the start of June are giving themselves an initial period of 18 months or less to find an acquisition target, according to data compiled by SPAC Research. That’s a big change from earlier in the boom, when more than 80% set their duration at a standard 24 months.

Stock buyers are getting more selective as the market for special purpose acquisition companies cools, making it more difficult for lesser-known issuers to raise capital. Hedge funds investing with borrowed money are more willing to bet on an unproven team if they can profit quickly – or at least get their money back soon if it doesn’t pan out.

“Pricing IPOs is difficult with so many in the market,” said Nicholas Skibo, a managing partner at Gritstone Asset Management, which invests in SPACs. “So you either have to be a world-class sponsor or you have to provide an incentive.”

Time Crunch

Seasoned dealmakers from former Facebook Inc executive Chamath Palihapitiya to billionaire investor Paul Singer are still taking their time with their latest SPACs, giving themselves two years to find a target. Newcomers are promising to deliver a deal in half that time, with many of the SPACs that unveiled listing plans last week intending to merge with a private company within 12 months.

The shorter durations are helping these blank-cheque companies stand out among the more than 300 SPACs waiting to sell shares in New York. A SPAC I Acquisition Corp, led by former Franklin Templeton Investments executive Claudius Tsang, is among the new listing hopefuls. It aims to raise US$80 million to buy a company in the technology or e-commerce industry in Asia.

Neo Technology Acquisition Corp and Singularity Acquisition Corp, both run by little-known China dealmakers, will also have just a year to find a target. Both can be extended multiple times, each time by three months, if they can’t find a deal within the initial window and their sponsors deposit more funds into a trust account.

Investor Demands

The duration of blank-cheque companies is going to be a topic that investors will push back on, according to Jennifer Deason, the chairman of Beyond Acquisition Corp.

“It’s the market,” Deason, whose blank-cheque firm started trading in July, said in an interview. “There are a lot of SPACs out there, and the pendulum swings back and forth in terms of supply and demand.”

The shorter timespans mean these new blank-cheque companies have deadlines closer to those of SPACs that are already listed, said Steven Halperin, co-head of capital solutions at investment bank Moelis & Co. 

The benefit for serial dealmakers, though, is that they may not need too much time to seal a deal.

“For a repeat issuer, the sponsor will already have the experience and potentially a shortlist of targets required to complete the SPAC lifecycle in a shorter timeframe,” Halperin said.