- April 10, 2023
- 4 minutes read
Europe’s Biggest SPAC To Close, Return Capital To Investors
In 2021, the market for special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) was at its peak. Over 600 SPACs were listed in 2021…
In 2021, the market for special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) was at its peak. Over 600 SPACs were listed in 2021 alone, compared to just 59 two years before. Most SPACs were from the U.S., but European investors soon took note and joined the bandwagon.
- SPACs are shell publicly-traded corporations created with the sole purpose of merging with an existing company. They pool funds for a future merger opportunity yet to be identified when raising funds.
- The SPAC market boomed to unseen heights in 2021 but slumped in 2022 amid a broader stock market crash. Only 86 SPACs were listed in 2022, compared to 613 in the previous year. Less than a dozen have been listed so far in 2023.
Europe’s biggest SPAC was listed in April 2021; Pegasus Europe (AMS: PACE) raised 500 million euros ($543mn) and listed its shares on the Euronext stock exchange. However, the market slump has put a dent in its hopes; Pegasus has announced that it’ll shut down and return capital to investors after failing to find a merger candidate.
Pegasus was sponsored by a team that included Jean-Pierre Mustier, former chief of Italian investment bank UniCredit; Diego De Giorgi, a former Bank of America executive; Tikehau Capital, a French asset manager; and Financière Agache, a holding company controlled by Bernard Arnault, Europe’s richest man with a net worth of nearly $200bn (Bloomberg Index).
The four sponsors invested 55 million euros ($60mn) in Pegasus Europe. Agache and Tikehau had pledged to invest another 100 million euros ($109mn) if a merger target was found, but that apparently won’t happen.
Pegasus Europe failed to acquire a target, but another SPAC founded by the same team was successful; Pegasus Entrepreneurs merged with FL Entertainment, the parent company of French content producer Banijay and online gambling platform Betclic. FL Entertainment (AMS: FLE) has a current market value of 4 billion euros ($4.35bn).
Many SPAC mergers have ended in bankruptcies and fire sales. Notable bankruptcies include online grocer Boxed, Bitcoin miner Core Scientific, electric carmaker Electric Last Mile, and internet service provider Starry. In March, Japan’s SoftBank Group struck a deal to acquire Berkshire Grey, a warehouse robot maker, for $375mn, compared to a $2.2bn valuation during its SPAC merger.
- One might say Pegasus Europe made the smart choice by ceasing operations and returning money to investors rather than delivering a bad merger.
- Pegasus Europe announced that shareholders will receive roughly 10 euros per share, the price at which they acquired shares in the SPAC’s listing. The final payments are expected to conclude in July, the firm announced. Founder shares won’t receive any distribution from the funds held in escrow, and warrants will expire worthless.