Wall Street's SPAC craze scales new heights with record filings

FILE PHOTO: A Wall Street sign is pictured outside the New York Stock Exchange in New York, October 28, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo/File Photo

(Reuters) – Richard Branson and Barry Sternlicht were among more than two dozen investor groups that filed with U.S. regulators on Friday to raise new blank-check acquisition companies, setting a new record.

The 28 filings for new special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) underscore their growing appeal on Wall Street. SPACs raised a record $82 billion last year, and the trend has gathered further steam in the early weeks of 2021.

Overall, 144 SPACs have raised $45.7 billion so far this year, according to data from SPAC Research, with backers including high-profile investors, politicians and sports personalities.

Starwood Capital Group’s CEO Barry Sternlicht’s Jaws Juggernaut Acquisition Corp filed for an IPO of up to $200 million on Friday. Other notable investors that launched SPACS included serial entrepreneur and billionaire Richard Branson and former BuzzFeed Chairman Ken Lerer.

Friday’s filings count more than doubled a previous record of 13 deals on Feb. 5, SPAC Research said.

A SPAC is a shell company that raises money in an IPO to merge with a privately held company that then becomes publicly traded as a result.

SPACs have emerged as a popular IPO alternative for companies, providing a path to going public with less regulatory scrutiny and more certainty over the valuation that will be attained and funds that will be raised.

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