Return of the SPAC: They're Back and Bigger than Ever
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Return of the SPAC: They’re Back and Bigger than Ever

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SPAC IPOs 2020

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The Briefing

  • Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs) are shell companies created with the sole intent to raise capital and buy a private organization, or a stake in a company
  • In 2020, 248 new SPACs went public, an increase of more than 300% from 2019
  • 2020 was a record-breaking year for SPACs on many fronts. For instance, Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Tontine Holdings raised $4 billion—the largest raised in SPAC history

SPACs are Back and Bigger than Ever

In 2020, SPACs raised over $82 billion in capital. That’s more funds in one year than in the last 10 years combined.

But what exactly is a SPAC, and how have they changed over the years?

SPAC IPOs versus Traditional IPOs

SPAC IPOs are essentially the opposite of traditional IPOs.

In a traditional IPO, an established company goes public to raise funds. In contrast, SPAC IPOs involve a shell company that’s already raised capital and is looking to purchase an organization (or a stake in a company).

While traditional IPOs are seeking funds, SPAC IPOs already have the funds—what they’re seeking is an organization to attach themselves to.

SPACs, also known as “Blank Check” companies, provide a faster way to raise funds compared to traditional IPOs. That’s because the audit process for a SPAC is shorter, since they don’t have any financial statements to review.

A Brief History of SPACs

248 SPACs went public in 2020—189 more than in 2019.

2020 has by far been the biggest year for SPACs in the last few decades. Here’s a look at the number of SPAC IPOs over the last 15 years, along with their average size:

Year# of SPAC IPOsAverage IPO Size (M)
200528$75.5
200637$91.5
200766$183.2
200817$226.0
20091$36.0
20107$71.8
201116$69.4
20129$54.5
201310$144.7
201412$145.8
201520$195.1
201613$269.2
201734$295.5
201846$233.7
201959$230.5
2020248$334.4

SPACs had a brief moment in 2007 prior to the financial crisis, but by 2009 they had lost traction—that year, only one SPAC IPO went public. However, in the last few years, SPACs have picked up momentum again.

And in 2020, the use of this curious go-public vehicle has skyrocketed.

The New and Improved SPACs of 2020

Historically, SPACs haven’t had the highest returns for investors. In fact, they were once considered a last resort when it came to raising capital.

But in the last few years, SPACs have ramped up their game. According to a recent report by McKinsey & Company, there have been three significant changes:

  1. Improved track record
    In 2020, more than 90% of SPAC deals closed. That’s a notable improvement compared to previous years—before 2015, at least 20% of SPACs liquidated.
  2. Bigger in size
    The average SPAC trust size is 5x larger than it was a decade ago.
  3. Well-known participants
    Some high-profile investors have jumped on the SPAC-train this year, which has helped generate hype.

While some experts are expecting the popularity of the SPAC to continue in 2021, it’s still early days. So it’s hard to know for certain if SPACs are back for the long-haul.

»If you found this article interesting, you might enjoy this full-length post on traditional IPOs: The World’s Largest IPOs Adjusted For Inflation

Where does this data come from?

Source: SPAC Data
Details: All US-listed SPACs are included in the data set. Figures as of Dec 30, 2020

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Charted: The Ukraine War Civilian Death Toll

Using data from the UN, this chart shows civilian death toll figures resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Ukraine war death toll

The Briefing

  • In total, since the war began in February there have been over 7,031 Ukrainian civilian deaths
  • Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons, such as missiles and heavy artillery

Charted: The Ukraine War Civilian Death Toll

Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine has wrought suffering and death on a mass scale, with many Russian attacks targeted at civilians.

We’ve created this visual using data from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to better understand how many civilians have died in Ukraine as a result of the war, as well as how many were injured and how many were children.

The Numbers

As of early December, it is reported that 7,031 people in Ukraine have died because of the war — 433 of them children. Another 11,327 have been injured, 827 of which are children. In total, this is over 18,000 people killed or injured.

The figures are difficult to verify due to differing reports coming out of both Russia and Ukraine. The UN OHCHR anticipates that the numbers could be even higher.

The State of the Conflict

The war began on February 24th, 2022 and less than a year in, millions of people have been displaced by the conflict, and thousands of civilians have been injured or killed.

According to the UN, most of the civilian deaths have been caused by wide-ranging explosives such as heavy artillery shelling, missiles, and air strikes, and have been concentrated in Donetsk and Luhansk and in other territory still held by Ukraine.

Additionally, new estimates from Kyiv report approximately 13,000 Ukrainian military or soldier deaths, which has yet to be confirmed by the army.

Where does this data come from?

Source: The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights monthly reports on civilian deaths in Ukraine.

Note: Data on deaths and injuries can vary wildly depending on the source.

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