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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.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jan 29, 2021 - Economy & Business

Varsity Tutors to be valued at $1.7 billion in SPAC deal

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Nerdy, the parent company of online learning platform Varsity Tutors, announced on Friday that it will be acquired by a SPAC called TPG Pace Tech Opportunities at a valuation of $1.7 billion. Axios had previously reported on the deal talks.

Why it matters: This is the first tech SPAC deal affiliated with private equity giant TPG, and comes as more and more legacy investment firms are hopping on the blank check bandwagon.

Updated 12 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."