SPACs poised for comeback via hockey? Not quite

June 2, 2009

floridapanthers1A blank check company is set acquire the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers for $240 million, a source has told Reuters, potentially making Sports Properties Acquisition Corp one of the rare companies in the past year to get investor buy-in for a proposed acquisition.

Blank check companies, or special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) as they are more formally known, raise money in an IPO and then buy a company, making it a public entity. Investors are essentially betting on the talents of a management team without knowing in which company they are ultimately invest.

In Sports Properties’ case, the management team includes former home run champion Hank Aaron and ex-New York Governor Mario Cuomo. Apparently Sports Properties’ A-list management team has convinced investors that a Sunbelt hockey team ranked 24th most valuable among the NHL’s 30 teams by Forbes is the kind of safe bet they have have been clamoring for.

Still even if the deal goes through, that probably doesn’t spell a return of SPACs.

Since a blockbuster 2007, investors have balked at showing blind faith in even the most seasoned managers, with dollar volume by SPAC IPOs falling 70 percent in 2008, and no deals this year. Investors in the past year have voted down one acquisition plan after another, preferring to get their money back rather than invest it in a stock that could prove shaky, even now as things seem to be steadying.

(PHOTO: Reuters/Carlos Barria, Florida Panthers game in Sunrise, FL, April 11, 2009.)

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