U.K.’s SPAC Market Rouses From Its Slumber
(Bloomberg) -- Almost eight months into 2021, the London Stock Exchange finally has its first listing of a special-purpose acquisition company for the year. The deal is likely to be a harbinger of more, bigger offerings to come.
The tiny blank-check firm, Spinnaker Acquisitions Plc, surged as much as 25% Wednesday after raising 2 million pounds ($2.77 million).
U.K. regulators on Tuesday cleared the way for new rules on such listings that will encourage bigger SPACs, just as a U.S. frenzy for such offerings cools down amid an accounting crackdown by the Securities and Exchange Commission. With London lagging behind continental Europe in attracting SPACs, the changes are welcome news for bankers and sponsors.
“The SPAC slowdown in the U.S., in part because of SEC’s interventions, could provide an opportunity for the U.K. to become more attractive as a SPAC market,” said Michal Berkner, a partner at law firm Cooley.
A key change in the U.K. rules: SPACs that raise at least 100 million pounds at listing no longer will be required to suspend trading when they reveal plans for an acquisition. The cutoff is down from 200 million pounds. Bankers now expect much larger American-style SPACs to tap the U.K. market.
Serial dealmakers Chamath Palihapitiya and Ian Osborne were eyeing the U.K. for the listing of a SPAC focused on climate change solutions, Bloomberg News reported in March.
While the U.K. in years past was a hot spot for such acquisition vehicles, the market only had one offering in all of 2020, when the boom kicked off in earnest.
Continental European listing venues such as Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris, in contrast, have been raking in blank-check listings, helped in part by quick-fire mergers this side of the pond, even as investors fret about the availability of attractive targets for the hundreds of U.S. SPACs that are on the prowl for assets.
Still, only $7.2 billion has been raised across Europe via SPAC listings over the past year, versus $180 billion in the U.S., and some recent European deals have been hobbled by poor liquidity. Investor interest, on the whole, remains far more muted than in the U.S., where blank-check firms have caught the attention not only of sophisticated hedge funds, but also regular mom and pop buyers.
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