SPACs – A Primer (Part I)

After COVID, the elections, and what the fifth instalment of the Scream series will be called (hint: it’s not Scream 5), the topic getting the most attention from our readers is the ramp-up of SPACs, or special purpose acquisition companies.

By definition, these vehicles are publicly traded shell companies with investor cash as their only initial asset. The sponsors then have two years to merge with a target company before the vehicle would have to unwind and return the cash.

A creature of the 1990’s, SPACs were designed to help smaller businesses access public equity. After the tech bubble burst, and again following the Great Recession, the popularity of SPACs declined.

As our Chart of the Week shows SPAC IPOs zoomed this year. So far in 2020 there have been 183 such vehicles raising $66 billion. Compare that to 2019 when only $13.6 billion was raised from 59 IPOs.