Lucid SPAC Gives Up Some of Giant Gain After Pact Confirmed
(Bloomberg) -- Shares of the blank-check firm combining with electric-vehicle startup Lucid Motors Inc. plunged in U.S. trading after confirming the biggest SPAC merger yet to cash in on investor enthusiasm for battery-powered cars.
Churchill Capital Corp IV, the special-purpose acquisition company run by financier Michael Klein, fell as much as 46% on Tuesday after confirming its merger with Lucid. The deal will generate about $4.4 billion in cash for the 14-year-old carmaker, which announced production of its debut model will be delayed to the second half of this year.
The slump follows a dramatic 472% run-up in the shares since Bloomberg first reported on Jan. 11 that Lucid and Churchill were in talks. Lucid has shied away from comparisons to market leader Tesla Inc., but the public listing at a pro-forma equity value of $24 billion positions it to compete for a slice of what’s expected to become a rapidly growing market for EVs. It plans to use the newly acquired funds to bring vehicles to market and expand its factory in Casa Grande, Arizona.
Traders often sell “sell on the news” after a long-rumored deal is consummated. The scope of Churchill’s decline was especially pronounced, signifying investors may also have been disappointed by the production delay or the terms of the deal. Lucid said it expects to need $600 million in bridge financing to bolster the company’s cash until the transaction with Churchill closes. The company expects negative free cash flow of around $10 billion through 2024, raising the question of how it will seek additional funds.
The reverse-merger represents the biggest capital injection for Lucid since Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund invested more than $1 billion in 2018. The agreement included a $2.5 billion private placement in public equity, or PIPE, the largest of its kind on record for a SPAC deal. It was led by PIF as well as BlackRock, Fidelity Management, Franklin Templeton, Neuberger Berman, Wellington Management and Winslow Capital, according to a joint statement from Lucid and Churchill Capital.
The placement sold at $15 a share -- a 50% premium to Churchill’s net asset value -- which translates into about $24 billion in pro-forma equity value, the companies said. The combined company has a transaction equity value of $11.8 billion.
“I see the SPAC as just a tool, another lever to pull on, where we can accelerate our trajectory,” Lucid Chief Executive Officer Peter Rawlinson said in an interview. “This is a technology race. Tesla gets this. It’s why they are so valuable and Lucid also has the technology.”
The SPAC is the largest run by Klein, a former Citigroup Inc. investment banker who has played a prominent role in guiding the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s investments, serving as an adviser to the PIF. Among other deals, he advised on the Saudi Aramco initial public offering.
The Lucid transaction is expected to close in the second quarter.
Lucid had previously said deliveries of its debut EV, a luxury sedan called the Air, would begin in the second quarter. The company has now decided not to commit to a start date for the $169,000 car as a result of talks with Churchill Capital, Rawlinson said. It plans to eventually produce more affordable versions of the Air and a battery-electric SUV.
The Casa Grande factory currently has installed production capacity for 34,000 units annually, based on three work shifts, Rawlinson said. Lucid hopes to ramp that up to capacity for 85,000 units a year as soon as 2023, after additional investments are made.
Lucid forecasts deliveries of 20,000 vehicles in 2022, generating sales of $2.2 billion. It sees revenue rising to $5.5 billion and $9.9 billion in 2023 and 2024, respectively, according to a presentation made to investors posted on its website. The company foresees positive earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $592 million in 2024.
Beyond its manufacturing capacity, Lucid expects to invest heavily in new products and will grow headcount to 5,000 over the next year, Rawlinson said.
Lucid’s debut vehicle will challenge Tesla in the still-niche market for premium EV sedans. The Air model has a range of 517 miles on a single charge, based on Environmental Protection Agency estimates. It can reach zero-to-60 miles per hour in 2.5 seconds and has access to Electrify America’s network of DC fast chargers. That’s comparable with the Model S Plaid +, which has a maximum range of around 520 miles, a zero-to-60 time of less than 2 seconds and access to Tesla’s nationwide network of fast chargers.
Ire of Musk
The market capitalization of Lucid is just a fraction of Tesla’s roughly $686 billion valuation, but not bad for a luxury electric-vehicle maker that has yet to deliver its first car. Rawlinson has stated repeatedly that Lucid is not a direct competitor to Tesla because his company’s price point is beyond the mass-market buyers Elon Musk aspires to reach.
But there are signs of a budding rivalry.
The Newark, California-based company -- the headquarters of which are just 16 miles from Tesla’s in Palo Alto -- says its first EV will go the distance against the longest-range Model S sedan. Lucid’s new factory arose out of the Arizona desert as fast as Tesla’s in China. And growing interest in the startup and its CEO has drawn the ire of none other than Musk.
Rawlinson and Musk have a complicated history. The Lucid CEO was chief engineer on Tesla’s flagship Model S, but Musk has downplayed his role in its development and also accused him in a tweet of leaving the company “in the lurch just as things got tough” in 2012.
Longer-term, Lucid is also working on energy storage solutions similar to Tesla’s Powerwall. The company wants to use the same battery technology in its cars to develop batteries to power homes and utility-scale devices and already has working prototypes, Rawlinson said.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.