Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs) or “blank check companies” soared to notoriety in 2020. Though not a new financial instrument, they raised around $80bn from 237 deals in 2020, which is more capital than in the last decade combined. BlackRock CEO Larry Fink has even suggested that SPACs could come to replace the traditional IPO process.
So what can we expect from SPACs in the coming year and how can investors maximize gains in this space? Market conditions and the macroeconomic level both suggest an environment that will continue to support SPAC popularity. Low interest rates make SPACs a low opportunity-cost option. Combined with the downside protection of the cash being stored in treasury bills until a target company is identified, and the flexibility they offer in the option to pull out before the merger, they will remain a reasonable choice for those looking to capitalize on a post-Covid recovery and high equity valuations.
SPAC popularity has been propelled by the involvement of credible, experienced backers (Michael Klein, Bill Ackman etc.), something which seems unlikely to fade in the near future. Chamath Palihapitiya, for example, has formed 6 SPACs (A to E) ranging in value from $350m to $1bn, and has indicated his intention to complete the alphabet! According to BTIG there are 210 SPACs currently searching for an appropriate target company, with time limits of 18-24 months. And Goldman Sachs have suggested that more than $300bn worth of SPAC stock could be issued over the next two years.
SPACs are democratizing the traditional IPO process, giving financial advisors and individual retail investors access to an IPO private equity style of investing which had previously only been available to large institutions. But while the momentum continues, it’s not easy to pick the winners. Not all of the 2020 completed SPAC deals saw the strong growth of Virgin Galactic (up 73%) or Draft Kings (up over 400%) after their mergers. This is where a SPAC ETF offers exposure to this growing space, while mitigating the risk of backing one specific deal.
Defiance ETFs recently launched SPAK, the first SPAC ETF, which tracks a rules-based, weighted index of SPACs both in the pre-merger “blank check” stage (40% of the index) and for two years following the merger (60% of the index). SPAK thereby seeks to give investors diversified access to the whole flow of the SPAC IPO process, including the gains which can accompany and emanate from a successful merger. SPAK groups the most liquid, compelling and innovative SPAC and SPAC-originating companies, but potentially mitigates risk of overexposure to any one deal – no security in the index exceeds a relative value of 12%, and no more than 45% of the index is comprised of stocks that each represent over 5%. The index is passively managed, which explains its expense ratio (0.45%), while its constituents are reviewed monthly to ensure that the ETF captures the potential dynamism of the SPAC space.
The Funds’ investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses must be considered carefully before investing. The prospectus contains this and other important information about the investment company. Please read it carefully before investing. A hard copy of the prospectus can be requested by calling 833.333.9383 or going to www.defianceetfs.com .
Investing involves risk. Principal loss is possible. The Fund invests in companies that have recently completed an IPO or are derived from a SPAC. These companies may be unseasoned and lack a trading history, a track record of reporting to investors, and widely available research coverage. IPOs are thus often subject to extreme price volatility and speculative trading. These stocks may have above-average price appreciation in connection with the IPO prior to inclusion in the Index. The price of stocks included in the Index may not continue to appreciate and the performance of these stocks may not replicate the performance exhibited in the past. In addition, IPOs may share similar illiquidity risks of private equity and venture capital. The Fund is new with a limited operating history.
Defiance ETFs are distributed by Foreside Fund Services, LLC.
n.b. This content was composed and paid-for by Defiance ETFs and is not FINSUM editorial.
 “2020 Has Been the Year of SPAC IPOs: Here Are the Prominent 4,” Sanghamitra Saha, December 28, 2020.
 “Goldman Strategists Say SPACs May Spur $300 Billion M&A Activity,” Joanna Ossinger, December 14, 2020.
 “Is Virgin Galactic a Buy After a New Space Stock ETF was announced?” Manisha Chatterjee, Jan 25, 2021.
 “DraftKings, Skillz SPAC Team Launch $1.5 Billion Spinning Eagle: What Investors Should Know,” Chris Katje, December 28, 2020.