Mar 31, 2023 - Economy

How a dead pro basketball league is electrifying truck stops

Illustration of a basketball with a groove shaped like a lightning bolt

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A truck stop electrification company and a defunct pro basketball league have nothing in common, except that they just merged.

Driving the news: Shorepower, an Oregon-based firm founded in 2004, has gone public via a reverse merger with the United States Basketball League, which operated between 1985 and 2008.

Background: Other than having a few recognizable NBA names like Manute Bol and Hot Rod Williams — and, of course, the three-time champion Atlantic City Seagulls — the USBL was best known for offering public stock in 1996.

  • When the league went under, its shares kept trading on the pink sheets. Their all-time closing high was $1.00, on Oct. 20, 2021.
  • It announced the Shorepower merger plans to zero fanfare last November, at which point the USBL reported $271,000 in total assets (about half of which was cash).
  • This is basically like a SPAC merger, but without the SPAC.

What they're saying: "We got our start in truck stop electrification," says Shorepower president and CEO Jeff Kim. "Generally at an RV park, no one's running their engines. You go to a truck stop, the majority of them are running the engine simply to keep comfortable [and] they consume about a gallon of diesel fuel per hour."

  • Also worth noting that truck idling creates fume clouds and particulate matter that drivers can inhale.

Look ahead: Shorepower, which previously raised around $16 million (mostly via grants), plans to use the merger proceeds to upgrade stations at its 60 or so locations, plus expand its network of conventional EV chargers.

The bottom line: This is hardly the first reverse merger with the shell of a dead company, but such deals became less popular than their SPAC cousins. Perhaps a revival is at hand, given SPAC market struggles, but this pairing may remain the strangest.

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