Ackman to miss first-quarter target to deal for $4 billion SPAC

BOSTON (Reuters) – Billionaire investor William Ackman said on Monday he will miss a self-imposed target for his $4 billion blank-check investment vehicle to find a merger partner in the first three months of 2021.

FILE PHOTO: William ‘Bill’ Ackman, CEO and Portfolio Manager of Pershing Square Capital Management, speaks during the Sohn Investment Conference in New York City, U.S., May 8, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The failed deadline underscores Ackman’s challenge of agreeing on a deal with a company of a sufficient size, scale and quality for Pershing Square Tontine Holdings, the largest special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) ever raised.

“Eight months since PSTH’s launch, we remain convinced that an investment in PSTH will generate highly attractive long-term returns, even from PSTH’s current stock price,” Ackman said in a report.

“While we previously believed that we would be able to announce a potential transaction by the end of this quarter, we will not be in a position to do so.”

SPACs like Pershing Square Tontine raise money in an initial public offering with the aim of merging with a private company. For the private company, the process is an alternative to it doing an IPO itself.

Ackman made headlines last year when he raised $4 billion in Pershing Square Tontine’s IPO. It now has between $5 billion and $7 billion of equity capital for its initial business combination.

Pershing Square Tontine held talks with home-rental start-up Airbnb Inc, Reuters reported last year, but the company ultimately opted for a traditional IPO.

Complicating matters is that the rationale for Pershing Square Tontine when it completed its initial public offering in July is less relevant today.

In a regulatory filing for the IPO last year, Ackman’s team highlighted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on financial markets and corporate earnings as a likely constraint on the broader IPO market and therefore creating an opportunity for his SPAC to use its capital to merge with an attractive target.

However, the market quickly rebounded, resulting in the busiest year for IPOs since 2000. In addition, a record amount of SPAC capital was raised, resulting in more competition for merger targets.

Despite the missed deadline, Ackman said he would likely seek to raise a second SPAC after Pershing Square Tontine completed a merger.

Pershing Square Tontine has until July 24, 2022 to complete a merger, with an option to ask shareholders for a six-month extension. If it does not complete a deal, the funds are returned to investors.

Ackman also discussed environmental, social and governance – or ESG – issues, saying they are critical for his investments and play no role in trying to market to potential newcomers because he is not presently raising new capital.

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