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April 06, 2008

Nasdaq to list SPACs

The Nasdaq has recently announced that it will permit special purpose acquisition companies SPACs to list on its market. SPACs have become increasingly popular vehicles to raise capital in the US - including by LBO firms which are unable to raise debt for acquisitions in the current environment.

Given that recent years have seen several India focused SPACs launched on the American Stock Exchange and the London AIM, Nasdaq's move should interest investors from here as well.

Extract from IDD Magazine's article on the Nasdaq move:
High profile financiers like Bruce Wasserstein, Joseph Perella, Thomas Hicks, Nelson Peltz and Ronald Perelman have all formed new blank check companies as SPACs are also called. Besides the cachet these marquee names carry in the financial world, SPACs accounted for 25% of IPOs in 2007 and made up more than $10 billion of issuance volume. Nowhere was the new issues action hotter than on the American Stock Exchange where 50 blank check companies went public.

...The AMEX is, without a doubt, the 800-pound gorilla in US exchange SPAC offerings. It was the first major exchange to pioneer the public listing of blank check companies in the US. In 2006, the AMEX listed its first blank check company, Community Bankers Acquisition, and followed a year later with its second listing, Shanghai Century Acquisition.

Despite its strong market position some SPACs that have executed acquisitions have switched their listings over from the AMEX to the Nasdaq because of its highly liquid electronic trading platform and strong brand name. The Nasdaq lists 3,200 companies and handles trades of around 2 billion shares daily.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.