SPAC Liquidations Are on the Rise as Time Runs Out to Find Deals
Chamath Palihapitiya will shutter two SPACs, while many others are set to vote on extensions to avoid having to return money to investors.
The troubled SPAC market isn’t getting any better. So far this year, 21 Special Purpose Acquisition Companies worth $9.9 billion have been liquidated, according to SPAC Research’s weekly monitor. More than half of these liquidations — eleven — have occurred since August.
But these statistics actually understate the problem. For example, they don’t capture announced liquidations, like those of Chamath Palihapitiya. Last week Palihapitiya, whom Bloomberg once crowned the “King of SPACs,” disclosed in a regulatory filing that he would liquidate two that had failed to find a merger partner and would return $1.6 billion to investors next month. The two-year time period for the two SPACS to find a partner ends in early October.
In August, even though a SPAC Palihapitiya sponsored with hedge fund Suvretta Capital managed to complete a deal with Akili Interactive, 99 percent of the original investors redeemed when the deal closed. The stock now trades below $2.50 per share, down from a high of $14 right before the deal.
A liquidation may also be in the cards for Donald Trump’s SPAC. A vote on an extension of time to complete the deal between Digital World Acquisition Corp. and Trump Media and Technology Group earlier this month failed to find enough investors to pass, leading it to be delayed twice. Since then, Digital World rescheduled the vote for Oct. 10, but that did not stop some of its investors from pulling their financing. Digital World disclosed Monday that private investors had pulled $138.5 million of the $1 billion needed to fund the company after the merger.
The Trump SPAC is dominated by retail investors, and getting enough of them to vote has been difficult, even though there is a subReddit with 18.5 thousand members promoting the stock — and encouraging them to vote.
The deal between Trump Media and Digital World is also under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which has led to speculation that it may never happen. But even with all these problems swirling around it, Digital World trades above its liquidation value of $10 per share, at more than $16 per share. That’s down almost 40 percent over the past month following the delay of the merger vote.
Thirteen other SPACs are set to hold votes on extensions by November 1, according to Boardroom Alpha.
There is more to come. As of late August, there were 256 SPACs that had already been searching for a partner for 18 months, according to SPAC Insider, which wrote that meant that almost 50 percent of the outstanding SPACs were on the prowl for a merger partner.
These SPACs went public during the heady first quarter of 2021, when the mania peaked. Under the SEC’s proposed SPAC rules, which are expected to be finalized soon, SPACs would need to announce a deal within18 months of the IPO and close within 24 months to avoid being considered a company under the Investment Company Act and subject to its tougher regulations.
Not everyone is giving up on SPACs, however. This year, 112 SPACs have filed for IPOs, but have not yet gone public, according to SPAC Research.