Appeal and Pitfalls of SPACs: Vehicle Mechanics and Related Trends (Part One of Two)

The number of special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) launched in 2020 far outpaced preceding years, generating buzz across the financial industry and the media. In turn, PE sponsors and investors scrambled to understand how SPACs operate and how they can enter the fray. What those actors generally found, however, is that while SPACs may be an area where some (e.g., large buyout firms) can thrive, others may be trying to fit the proverbial square peg in a round hole. That topic was addressed in a recent Investment Management Due Diligence Association (IMDDA) webinar moderated by Daniel Strachman, co‑founder of IMDDA, and featuring Milton A. Vescovacci, shareholder at Gunster; Kelly DePonte, managing director at Probitas Partners; and Gordon Hargraves, senior partner at Novacap. This first article in a two-part series examines nuances of SPAC vehicles; the high upside and limited downside of financial outcomes they offer; and some related trends and issues in the area (i.e., how companies can attract SPAC sponsors). The second article will describe some of the downsides of SPACs, including inherent conflicts of interest they introduce and obstacles to PE involvement in the vehicles. See our two-part series: “Mechanics of How PE Sponsors Can Form, Capitalize and Publicly Offer a SPAC Vehicle to Acquire a Private Company” (Oct. 20, 2020); and “Timeline and Wrinkles of the SPAC Public Offering Process, and Factors to Weigh When Pursuing Target Companies for Acquisition” (Oct. 27, 2020).

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