A-Rod Joins Blank-Check Derby to Build the ‘Yankees of SPACs’
(Bloomberg) -- After losing a deal for the New York Mets baseball team to billionaire Steve Cohen, Alex Rodriguez has another game he wants to win.
The former all-star for the cross-town Yankees has joined the lengthening roster of financiers, executives, politicians, celebrities and athletes who have signed onto special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs. Rodriguez, whose Slam Corp. began trading Tuesday, will now start scouting for a merger deal to enrich him and his investors.
“I have said to myself many, many times, ‘Boy, if I had the capital I would love to buy this company,’” Rodriguez, perhaps better known simply as A-Rod, said in an interview. “Now with the SPAC, the game is our game to win.”
A-Rod’s move comes as the surge in blank-check deals has spurred some investors to point to the asset class as the latest example of market froth, amid concern that too many SPACs will be hunting for too few quality companies to take public.
Two months into the year, 164 blank-check companies have raised more than $50 billion in initial public offerings on U.S. exchanges, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s already more than half of last year’s all-time record SPAC volume.
Meanwhile, the IPOX SPAC Index on Tuesday suffered its worst intraday drop since its July 31 launch, while one of the most prominent blank-check companies, Churchill Capital Corp IV, tumbled 40% a day after announcing a deal with Lucid Motors Inc. Still, the Churchill SPAC’s units closed at $38.31 in New York, well above their $10 trust price.
Rodriguez and his partners expect Slam to stand out from the accelerating cascade of SPACs partly through his celebrity status combined with his long and tested business record.
“George Steinbrenner would have said there’s only one Yankees and I feel like we have an opportunity to build the Yankees of SPACs,” Rodriguez said, referring to the Major League Baseball club’s longtime owner who died in 2010.
Slam, a partnership between Rodriguez’s investment firm A-Rod Corp. and hedge fund Antara Capital LP, will focus on acquisition targets in the sports, media, entertainment, health and wellness and consumer technology sectors, according to its listing documents.
Marc Lore, a former Walmart Inc. executive and founder of Jet.com, is a special adviser to Slam.
Rodriguez is Slam’s chief executive officer while Antara Chief Investment Officer and Managing Partner Himanshu Gulati is chairman. They stressed that they don’t intend to take a professional sports franchise public.
“We have gotten multiple emails about sports teams and it’s just not something we’re focused on,” Gulati said. Rather, Slam is looking for a high-growth technology business with a big addressable market.
Red Sox Miss
RedBall Acquisition Corp., a blank-check firm that counts Oakland Athletics executive Billy Beane of “Moneyball” fame as co-president, had held merger talks with the company that owns the Boston Red Sox. Those talks collapsed, though, Bloomberg News reported.
Rodriguez, as part of an investment team that included entertainer Jennifer Lopez, similarly took a swing at the New York Mets but missed. Hedge fund manager Cohen won that deal with a bid of more than $2.4 billion that beat his group by $50 million, Rodriguez said.
“We took an incredible run at the Mets, we learned a great deal,” Rodriguez said. “I can only do so many things and that’s why Slam is right at the forefront of my time, my energy and my focus. I’m not saying that 10 years from now we wouldn’t revisit sports.”
Slam is trading on the Nasdaq under the symbol SLAM. The units, comprised of one share and one-fourth of a warrant, closed their first day of trading at $10.51 after being offered at $10 apiece.
At least two other SPACs are linked to well-known athletes. Colin Kaepernick, the former National Football League quarterback turned activist, is co-chairman of one, while former National Basketball Association star Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal was a strategic adviser to another.
Rodriguez has already seen one of his investments, Hims & Hers Health Inc., go public through a SPAC deal last year. He said his A-Rod Corp. has 30 to 35 venture investments and at least six of them are going public this year.
“We didn’t partner with Alex because he is an athlete,” said Antara’s Gulati. “I think it’s great because he has great social media, but I partnered with him because he’s a phenomenal businessman.”
Rodriguez said he was watching the market closely including Tuesday’s SPAC slump. “One of my mentors, Mr. Warren Buffett, always told me don’t confuse wisdom with a bull market.”
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