SPACside story: Behind the euphoria and frenzy, a viable exit for investors?

With Ravi Thakran, chairman and CEO, Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle Corp

Dr Finian Tan, founder and chairman, Vickers Venture Partners

SPACs or blank cheque firms are entities without operations that are formed only to raise capital to acquire other businesses. Merging with a SPAC has become an increasingly popular method for closely-held businesses to raise capital for growth.

2020 was a peak year with a total of 248 SPAC IPOs transacted globally, raising $83 billion, data shows. In 2021, the number has already crossed 423 SPAC IPOs. The SPAC frenzy is fast catching up in SE Asia with at least 10 blank cheque firms, representing close to $3 billion, chasing tech upstarts in the region. Furthermore, the Singapore Stock Exchange has recently eased the minimum value limits to attract mid-tier SPAC listings from the region.

This panel features Ravi Thakran, former L Catterton Asia head and the chairman and CEO of Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle Corp, and Dr Finian Tan, Vickers Venture Partners founder and chairman, who will share their experiences with the SPAC vehicle and also deep-dive into the opportunities and challenges of the model.

Thakran’s Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle II, the second blank cheque firm that filed to raise up to $300 million in an IPO in the US earlier this year, came just five months after the first SPAC, Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle, which mopped up around $240 million. Aspirational’s first vehicle announced it was merging with private jet charterer Wheels Up. For the second SPAC, Thakran is scouting for businesses with premium brands that offer an aspirational lifestyle experience to consumers. Thakran believes, “SPACs are especially suited for companies that have so far not got access to the traditional listing route.”

Dr Tan’s Vickers Venture was one of the first in this region to publicly announce SPAC plans. In December 2020, it filed to raise $100 million in an IPO on Nasdaq for its blank cheque firm Vickers Vantage. Vickers Ventures Fund VI will act as the SPAC’s sponsor and will have 24 months to successfully identify and complete the merger. Tan had told us earlier, “we’ve seen plenty of SPACs but not enough successful de-SPACs.”

Join this conversation to get a nuanced perspective on the SPAC model.