Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Plans Blank Check IPO

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(Bloomberg) -- Billionaire activist investor Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management has confidentially filed in the U.S. for an initial public offering of a blank check company, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Pershing Square could aim to raise more than $1 billion for the investment vehicle, the person said, asking not to be identified as the details aren’t public.

Blank check companies -- also known as special purpose acquisition companies -- raise money on the public markets to make an acquisition within a set period of time. A target isn’t identified until after the shares are trading.

It’s been eight years since Ackman last participated in a blank check company. Pershing Square was a sponsor on a similar company known as Justice Holdings Ltd., which merged with Burger King Worldwide Inc. in 2012 and brought the fast-food chain back to the public market. That company eventually became Restaurant Brands International Inc., in which Pershing Square still owns a 13.4% stake, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Listings by special purpose acquisition companies, along with health-care and biotechnology firms, propped up the IPO market during the stock market volatility that began in mid-March. SPACs have raised about $9.7 billion year to date, compared to $5.1 billion for the same period in 2019, the data shows.

A blank check company backed by Pimco -- Capstar Special Purpose Acquisition Corp. -- filed for an IPO Thursday. The company plans to raise $200 million and target companies in consumer, health-care and technology, media and telecommunications industries with valuations between $600 million and $1.5 billion, according to a regulatory filing.

Ackman has said the volatility in the markets is creating opportunities for Pershing Square. Part of his rationale for exiting his investment in Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. last month was that he believes recent market swings might be a good moment to deploy capital on higher-returning investments.

Pershing Square investments have returned 33% through June 9, according to its website.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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