Irish-backed $400m Spac pulls plug after failing to seal deal

AN Irish-backed $400m (€367m) investment vehicle has told shareholders just hours before a crunch meeting that was due to be held on Wednesday evening that it will be liquidated after it failed to complete takeover or merger before a deadline.

orth Atlantic Acquisition Corporation (NAAC), a so-called special purpose acquisition company (Spac), co-founded by its chief executive, Gary Quin.

He’s a former vice chairman at Credit Suisse. Another key co-founder is Irish businessman Patrick Doran. He sold his Dublin-based packaging company Americk in 2016 to Spanish group Saica. He then established Woodberry Capital, a private investment firm.

Spacs flooded onto the market in recent years when rock-bottom interest rates forced investors to hunt for returns for the cash piles. But Spacs have firmly fallen out of favour since then.

NAAC raised almost $400m from investors in January 2021. Its original deadline for sealing an investment deal was this Thursday.

The Nasdaq-listed company was due to hold a meeting on Wednesday afternoon in New York to ask shareholders to approve an extension to the deadline to July 26 this year.

“The company encourages its shareholders to vote in favour of the proposal to amend its charter to extend the date by which the company has to complete a business combination from January 26, 2023 to July 26, 2023,” noted a circular to shareholders.

However, in a dramatic move on Wednesday, the company informed the stock market that the vehicle will be liquidated.

“Due to its inability to consummate an initial business combination within the time period required… the board of directors of the company has elected to dissolve and liquidate the company in accordance with the provisions of its charter, and will redeem all of the outstanding ordinary shares that were included in the units issued in its initial public offering,” the company said in a notice.

NAAC planned to merge last year with US-based tech business Telesign, which is owned by Belgian mobile phone company Proximus.

That deal valued Telesign at more than $1.7bn including cash from NAAC. NAAC shareholders would have owned 22pc of the merged entity, while 4.9pc would have been split between NAAC’s founders.

Mr Quin and Mr Doran stumped up just $25,000 for their founding shares and control 20pc of the total outstanding shares in NAAC.

The deal collapsed last summer, however.

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