Dec 23, 2020 - Economy

Group Nine's convoluted road to going public

Illustration of a check folded into a paper airplane carrying an app button

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

This is what it looks like when a snake eats its own tail: Group Nine Acquisition Corp., a blank-check acquisition company, is being created by an entity called Group Nine SPAC LLC, which is a subsidiary of Group Nine Media, which in turn is going to be bought by Group Nine Acquisition Corp.

Why it matters: The gloriously convoluted structure manages to allow Group Nine Media to go public without having the normal scrutiny associated with a formal IPO — and also allows it to collect the hefty 20% sponsorship fee that a SPAC would normally charge.

The big picture: CEOs wanting to take their company public have never had more options — the IPO, the direct listing, the SPAC, even now the Primary Direct Floor Listing. All of them are seeing intense interest right now, during one of the biggest IPO booms in history.

How it works: The new Group Nine SPAC will eventually buy Group Nine Media — but not until it finds at least one other media company to buy at the same time.

  • What they're saying: The SPAC prospectus talks about creating "a scaled platform with efficient portfolio infrastructure" pursuing "a robust roll up strategy" and "capitalizing on synergy opportunities."
  • What they mean: They want to use other people's money to buy competitors.

The bottom line: Money is cheap right now, so it makes sense for Group Nine to try to raise $200 million from public-company investors. They won't be able to buy the Charlotte Agenda, though: Axios got there first.

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