The debate is done: the SPAC fad is over.
Chamath Palihapitiya, one of the biggest promoters of special purpose acquisition companies in recent years, is shuttering two of his SPACs and will be returning the money to investors. Palihapitiya, who merged SPACs with businesses such as Virgin Galactic, Opendoor and SoFi, couldn’t find any attractive businesses for the SPACs to buy. Is that a sign of what’s to come? Yep.
Here are some numbers: 676 SPACs trading on the market haven’t yet found a mate—a business with which to merge—according to SPAC Research. Of that group, 80% are likely to liquidate, predicts Jay Ritter, a finance professor at University of Florida who goes by “Mr. IPO.”
Why might that happen? Well, the original idea of SPACs as a way for a company to go public with a guaranteed amount of cash no longer holds true. Ritter said most SPACs that have merged this year with a business saw shareholders redeem 80% or more of their cash. That means businesses were merging with what was essentially an empty shell. They got a public listing out of it, but didn’t get any cash. Where’s the fun in that?