Britain eases SPAC rules to attract listings

FILE PHOTO: A financial trader works at their desk at CMC Markets in the City of London, Britain, April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain’s markets watchdog on Tuesday eased rules on listing of so-called special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), in a bid to attract more business to London’s financial centre.

Britain wants to bolster the City of London as a global financial hub after it was largely cut off from the European Union following Brexit.

After a surge in activity in what are dubbed SPACs or “blank check” companies on Wall Street and more recently in the EU, Britain is keen that London is not left behind.

SPACs list on an exchange and must use the proceeds to buy an existing or target company within a set timeframe.

Under previous UK rules, shares in SPACs were suspended when a target company was identified, effectively trapping investors and putting them off participating in the UK market.

The Financial Conduct Authority in April had proposed an easing of the rules, waiving the suspension rule if a SPAC raised at least 200 million pounds ($275.66 million) from its float.

On Tuesday, the watchdog cut this to 100 million pounds in its final version of the rules.

“The final rules aim to provide more flexibility to larger SPACs, provided they embed certain features that promote investor protection and the smooth operation of our markets,” the FCA said in a statement.

($1 = 0.7255 pounds)

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