What is a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC)?

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Published by Mateusz Muszynski
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Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs) have been around since 1993. Although, they became more popular amidst the post-pandemic market euphoria.

From 2020 through 2022, SPACs made up over half of the initial public offerings (IPOs) in the U.S. They helped contribute to both the overall market rally and the creation of “meme stocks.”

This trend is backed up by worldwide market data as well. Since then, it’s cooled off a bit in response to economic tightening and investor skepticism.

Diving Into the Details of SPACs

As the markets continue to evolve, SPACs have emerged as a good avenue for many investors and companies. They’re becoming more relevant in the world of M&A.

Let’s get into the details and demystify SPACs. You’ll find they have many benefits and risks to consider.

Understanding SPACs

SPAC Definition: A SPAC is a publicly traded shell company. Investors form them with the sole purpose of acquiring or merging with an existing private company. This brings the private company to the public market.

How to Form and Structure SPACs

  • Stage 1: A group of sponsors, often comprising seasoned investors or industry experts, starts the formation of a SPAC.
  • Stage 2: Sponsors provide the initial capital to cover operating expenses and the costs associated with the IPO.
  • Stage 3: The management team, including directors and officers, plays a crucial role in steering the SPAC towards its goals.

Key Players in a SPAC

  • Sponsors: Visionary people or entities forming the SPAC.
  • Investors: People or businesses investing in the SPAC’s IPO.
  • The Management Team: Professionals responsible for navigating the SPAC through its lifecycle.

The Lifecycle of SPACs

The lifecycle of a SPAC unfolds in distinct phases. Let’s look at the process from its inception to the culmination of a merger or acquisition.

Formation and Initial Capitalization

A group of sponsors, often seasoned investors or industry stalwarts, starts the formation of the SPAC.

These sponsors provide the initial capital to cover operating expenses and the costs associated with the IPO.

SPAC’s IPO Process

The SPAC undergoes the process of an IPO, where it offers its shares to the public for the first time.

Funds raised during the IPO are held in a trust account. This forms what is commonly known as a “blind pool.” These funds are earmarked for future acquisitions or mergers but remain dormant until there’s a suitable target.

Timeline and Milestones of a SPAC

  • Identification Period: Following its IPO, the SPAC enters a predetermined identification period, typically spanning 18-24 months. During this time, the SPAC’s management diligently scouts the market for companies ripe for an acquisition or merger.
  • Announcement of Merger/Acquisition: Once it’s found a promising target, the SPAC can announce its intention to merge with or acquire the target company. This announcement marks a milestone in the SPAC’s journey, signaling its entry into the realm of active deal-making.
  • SEC Review and Filing: The proposed merger or acquisition agreement is drafted and submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for review and approval. The SEC’s scrutiny ensures compliance with regulatory standards and safeguards investor interests.
  • Shareholder Vote: SPAC shareholders are granted the opportunity to vote on whether to approve the proposed merger or acquisition. This democratic process empowers investors to exercise their rights and influence the fate of the SPAC’s future.
  • Completion of Merger/Acquisition: Depending on the shareholder voting, the merger or acquisition proceeds to completion. Funds from the trust account help finalize the transaction, turning the target company into a publicly traded entity.
  • Post-Merger Operations: After the merger or acquisition, the combined entity embarks on a new chapter as a publicly traded company. SPAC sponsors often play an active role in post-merger operations. They can leverage their expertise to navigate the challenges of managing and growing the newly formed entity.

Benefits and Risks of SPACs

As investors and companies navigate the intricate terrain of SPACs, it’s good to understand the advantages and pitfalls in these structures.

Benefits for Investors

  • Access to Private Equity-Like Investments: SPACs offer retail investors access to investments typically reserved for private equity investors.
  • Potential for High Returns: If the target company grows post-merger, investors can reap big rewards, amplifying their return on investment.
  • Limited Downside Risk: SPAC investments can offer a degree of downside protection. Investors have the flexibility to redeem their shares if they disagree with the proposed merger, avoiding potential losses.

Benefits for Target Companies

  • Faster Access to Capital: SPAC mergers offer a streamlined process for accessing capital, bypassing challenges and delays with traditional IPOs.
  • Certainty of Funding: With a SPAC merger, target companies gain assurance of funding upon completion of the transaction. This certainty of capital provides stability and helps with planning and execution.
  • Simplified IPO Process: SPAC mergers can simplify the IPO process, offering a more efficient route to public markets.
  • Access to Experienced Management: Collaborating with SPAC sponsors gives target companies access to professionals with industry expertise.

Risks Associated with SPACs

  • Failure to Find Suitable Targets: SPACs face the risk of failing to find suitable target companies in the set timeframe. This could result in a loss of investor confidence and may lead to liquidation or an extension of the SPAC’s lifespan.
  • Dilution of Shareholder Value: The issuance of more shares or warrants can dilute existing shareholders’ ownership, potentially eroding shareholder value.
  • Market Risk: SPACs operate within dynamic financial markets, subjecting investors and companies to market moves and other risks.
  • Regulatory Compliance Risks: Failure to adhere to regulatory requirements can lead to legal and financial consequences.
  • Lack of Transparency: The opaque nature of SPAC transactions can raise concerns regarding transparency and disclosure.
  • Potential for Conflicts of Interest: SPAC sponsors’ dual roles as investors and deal-makers may give rise to conflicts of interest. Balancing fiduciary responsibilities and personal interests requires oversight to safeguard investors.


Let’s review our journey with a recap below.

Recap of What a SPAC Is: SPACs, or Special Purpose Acquisition Companies, are publicly traded entities formed with the sole intent of merging with or acquiring another company, thereby taking it public.

SPACs Come with Pros and Cons for All Parties Involved.

SPACs offer investors access to private equity-like investments. They have the potential for high returns and can limit some downside risks. Meanwhile, target companies benefit from faster access to capital, certainty of funding, a simplified IPO process, and access to experts.

However, SPACs also have risks, including the failure to find suitable targets, dilution of shareholder value, market risk, regulation risks, lack of transparency, and potential conflicts of interest.

It’s Best to Partner with Pros: Whether finding a target company or managing SPAC investors’ attention, partnering with industry experts like Acquinox Advisors can improve the process. Our expertise and guidance can help steer you through the challenges of SPAC transactions, maximizing benefits while mitigating risks.

We hope that you’ve found this article valuable when it comes to learning about SPACs. If you’re interested in reading more, please subscribe below to get alerted of new articles as we write them.

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