A Record Pace for SPACs in 2021


With the world on lockdown, 2021 noticed a major enhance in the recognition of particular function acquisition corporations (SPACs) as a strategy to convey non-public corporations public. It additionally made some well-known non-public equity managers accessible to public traders. Looking again, we see that 2021 noticed 613 SPAC listings, elevating a complete of $145 billion – a rise of 91% from the quantity raised in 2020. 

We have beforehand completed an introduction to SPACs and the way their lifecycles work. Today we replace a few of that knowledge to see if the frenzy of newer SPACs has traded and carried out persistently with earlier SPACs.

SPAC listings contribute to report IPO 12 months

We famous in November that the U.S. market had already exceeded earlier preliminary public providing (IPO) data set in the Nineties. By year-end, the variety of IPOs topped an astounding 1,000 listings, properly above the roughly 180 IPOs we beforehand estimated have been wanted to offset de-listings and mergers.

SPACs performed a big half in hitting the IPO report, representing over 59% of complete new listings, a rise from round 53% in 2020 (Chart 1). In truth, though all different IPOs elevated by 88% from 2020 ranges, SPAC listings elevated virtually 150%. 

Chart 1: 2021 was a report 12 months for SPACs

SPAC lifecycle is shortening

SPACs that listed between 2008 and 2019 persistently took a mean of virtually two years to seek out an acquisition goal. From 2015 by 2019, we additionally noticed round 92% of all SPACs full acquisitions. 

That means many of the SPACs that went public throughout Covid are nonetheless too new to have accomplished their offers. In truth, 82% of 2021 SPACs are nonetheless looking for offers, with solely round 3% that accomplished a enterprise mixture already. 

However, it hasn’t stopped some SPACs from discovering acquisition targets shortly. Based on knowledge (Chart 2), the median SPAC that listed in 2021 and accomplished an acquisition was solely round 0.64 years (or simply over 7.5 months). That pattern is in step with the marginally older SPACs from 2020, which have additionally averaged lower than one 12 months to finish (and have seen ~50% of SPACs attain completion).

Chart 2: SPACs time to completion and proportion that full

SPACs time to completion and percentage that complete

SPACs on day one

Recall from our earlier research that SPACs signify future working corporations. At IPO, the money raised is put right into a belief whereas administration or the sponsor for the SPAC searches for an acquisition goal. 

Data reveals that the standard SPAC elevating has remained about the identical at round $200 million for the previous six years (Chart 3 transition from gentle to darkish gray field). However, the way in which the gray packing containers are shrinking reveals a focus forming at that $200m increase degree.

Despite that, and the truth that there are numerous extra SPACs (blue dots), the distribution from small to massive had remained pretty constant (high and bottoms of the strains) with “larger” SPACs usually round $500 million and small SPACs usually elevating nearer to $40 million.

Chart 3: SPACs proceed to lift round $200 million at IPO

Distribution of SPAC Offer Amounts Over Time

We additionally see that SPACs’ costs have began experiencing a first-day pop – a pattern that has traditionally been frequent for conventional IPOs (Chart 4). However, the information reveals that the typical SPAC has gained lower than 2% from the IPO value to the closing value on the primary buying and selling day, with a extra typical pop at a a lot decrease 50 foundation factors (bps). That’s a lot decrease than the standard first-day IPO efficiency of nearer to 18% traditionally. But it’s in line with the dearth of stories in regards to the SPACs’ eventual goal firm or acquisition valuation in addition to their underlying construction, which extra carefully resembles a time period deposit at the moment.

Chart 4: SPACs are beginning to “pop” on day one

SPAC IPO 1st-Day Return

SPAC buying and selling throughout the lifecycle

As we famous earlier than, buying and selling patterns change over the lifespan of a SPAC:

  1. IPO: At the time of IPOs, SPACs typically expertise low volatility.
  2. Acquisition: Volumes solely actually begin to enhance as soon as an acquisition goal is recognized.
  3. Completion: Once the enterprise mixture is full, buying and selling tends to stay risky, extra in step with different new working corporations – reflecting the vary of investor views of the goal firm’s enterprise mannequin and uncertainty round future earnings.

At an total degree, we additionally see a spike in volatility and buying and selling (line thickness) when information turns into accessible and the SPAC nears a life-stage swap. That additionally is sensible, as that’s when new info provides to a valuation reassessment and a brand new interval of value discovery.

Chart 5: SPAC volatility varies throughout the lifecycle

SPAC volatility varies across the lifecycle

Quoted spreads (bids and presents you see on the display screen) for SPACs are typically huge. However, efficient spreads extra precisely replicate the precise prices of trades. Similar to our findings earlier than, up to date knowledge reveals that efficient spreads stay low and fixed all through the lifecycle. That means that market makers are capable of present liquidity in the SPAC when wanted, but it surely additionally means traders ought to keep away from “market” orders in SPACs, which can execute on the far aspect of wider display screen spreads.

Chart 6: Spreads are typically fixed all through the lifecycle

Spreads are generally constant throughout the lifecycle

SPAC efficiency over time

Also in step with our earlier findings, SPAC efficiency varies over time. The charts under have a look at the efficiency of SPACs that efficiently accomplished an acquisition from 2019 by early November 2021.

Average returns are constructive, gaining over 40%. However, the information suggests quite a lot of the constructive return comes on the finish of the pre-announcement interval and on the finish of the primary 12 months as an working firm. Average returns are additionally boosted by just a few sturdy outperformers. The median return is nearer to flat, even post-completion. 

We additionally don’t regulate for stock-market returns right here, largely as a result of all SPACs extra carefully resemble a time period deposit till they discover an acquisition goal, so the suitable benchmark shifts over the lifecycle too.

Chart 7: SPAC common and median unadjusted returns

SPAC average and median unadjusted returns

Additionally, we be aware that almost all of SPACs have barely constructive efficiency pre-completion (in inexperienced on the left aspect of chart 8). This contrasts with a few of the media’s give attention to particular SPAC tickers which have fallen under their IPO value.

However, after a merger is introduced, stronger valuation variations are priced in, and the distribution of efficiency widens, with round 25% of SPACs gaining greater than 100%, whereas about 50% of SPACs drift right down to report losses versus their frequent share first trade value, largely after they full their enterprise mixtures.

Chart 8: Distribution of SPAC efficiency at every stage in their lifecycle

Distribution of SPAC performance at each stage in their lifecycle


SPACs serve instead means for non-public corporations to enter the general public markets and provides the general public entry to extra early-stage progress corporations and personal equity-like funding managers.

While the recognition of SPACs has risen in current years, resulting in report listings and capital raised, the information reveals the brand new SPACs appear to be performing and buying and selling persistently with historic SPACs.

Regardless, SPACs are totally different than working corporations, mutual funds or ETFs. So it’s necessary for traders to think about how the buying and selling traits of SPACs change all through their lifecycle and to concentrate on the vary of anticipated efficiency outcomes earlier than they make investments.

Robert Jankiewicz, Research Specialist for Economic and Statistical Research at Nasdaq, contributed to this text.

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