Mar 19, 2021 - Economy & Business

$15B SPAC deal between Apollo, Vista collapses

a series of blank checks

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A $15 billion SPAC deal involving Apollo Global Management and Vista Equity Partners has collapsed, as first reported by Bloomberg and confirmed by Axios.

Why it matters: The failure reflects both deepening difficulties in obtaining PIPE financing, and broader concerns that tech valuations may have peaked.

Details: Vista wanted to merge and take public three portfolio companies that provide auto industry software — DealerSocket, Omnitracs and Solera Holdings.

  • It would have done so via a rollup merger with Apollo Strategic Growth Capital, an Apollo-sponsored SPAC that last year raised $817 million in its IPO.
  • The two sides recently began talking to potential PIPE investors, with Bloomberg reporting the $15 billion pro forma valuation ask.

Driving the news: The PIPE market had been tightening for months, and this deal hit just as public tech stocks began to sag.

  • The Nasdaq is down 3.5% for March, while the Dow and S&P 500 continue to hit new highs.
  • Investors decided the asking price was too rich. Apollo came to agree, viewing the merger to be an anachronism, harkening back to the good old days of February.

Blaming a busted deal on "market conditions" is a well-worn red herring.

  • The SPAC boom, and the tech SPAC boom in particular, has been evangelized by The Church of the Hockey Stick. Even the slightest loss of faith can have disproportionate consequences.
  • Either Apollo and the PIPE players are influenced more by short-term market fluctuations than they'd care to admit, or they see a sustained correction ahead.
  • A source familiar with the situation says this is about tech valuations in general, not about auto-related tech valuations.

The bottom line: Momentum can go both ways.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct an editing error in the headline that said $15 million instead of $15 billion.

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