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CFO Insights —Taking stock: How to assess SPACs and other IPO options in a post-pandemic market

Published on: Jan 26, 2021

Quick: What do Bill Ackman, Condoleezza Rice, and Paul Ryan now have in common? As it turns out, the hedge-fund manager, the former Secretary of State, and the ex-Speaker of the House are each involved, to one degree or another, in launching a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

Sometimes referred to as “blank-check” companies, SPACs reverse the traditional IPO process, wherein an operating business taps the capital markets for funds. SPACs go public first, with a well-regarded executive or team raising money based on its intention to identify and acquire a private company that it can then fold back into its public shell, usually within two years.

SPACs, though, are only the lead driver in an IPO market where, as of mid-November, the number of IPOs reached 369—a 73% increase over the same time last year. They are not the only “alternative” to traditional IPOs making news: direct listings (DL), whereby a company’s existing shares are listed on a stock exchange, giving founders, employees, shareholders, and early backers a path to liquidity, are also gaining some traction.

For CFOs, these trends mean that the future offers distinct choices for going public. Even though many of these options are not new, the opportunity to go public quickly and at potentially less expense has acquired new appeal in the era of COVID-19. And in this issue of CFO Insights, we’ll outline some of the options for finance executives, helping them parse their choices.

This publication was released by our US firm.

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