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Stock-trading fintech Webull agrees to go public in $7.3B SPAC deal

Feb 28, 2024
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Illustration: Tiffany Herring/Axios

Webull, the stock-trading app that gained prominence during the pandemic, announced Wednesday that it has agreed to go public via merger with a special purpose acquisition company.

Why it matters: Fintechs are stepping into the (slowly) reopening public markets.

Driving the news: Webull expects to go public, pending shareholder and regulatory approval, in the second half.

  • It will begin trading on the Nasdaq after merging with SK Growth Opportunities Corp., a SPAC anchored by SK, the South Korean conglomerate.
  • Created in December 2021, the SPAC intended to find a company with strong ESG metrics.
  • The deal would give the combined company an enterprise value of $7.3 billion, and Webull is expected to get $100 million as part of the deal.

What they're saying: The company sees going public as a path to more financing options.

  • "It also gives our investors more transparency into our business," says Webull group president Anthony Denier.
  • This comes as the company, which Denier says is profitable and counts most of its revenue in the U.S., is expanding aggressively abroad.

Between the lines: The deal comes as companies with ties to China are coming under scrutiny.

  • U.S.-headquartered Webull has been noted for its early Chinese investors. Denier, though, notes that the company is not majority owned by Chinese investors and has only one Chinese board member. Other investors include Coatue, General Atlantic and Lightspeed.
  • Notably, Webull was known for having crypto operations, though company executives spun that business off last year — in part because they're aware of regulatory scrutiny.
  • "We spun that business out into a non-affiliated company with a completely different group of shareholders and different share structure called Webull Pay before the end of 2023 for the specific purposes of going public," says Denier.
  • Crypto trading, through not the majority of its business, was notably the sticking point for the SEC in Apex Fintech's deal to go public via SPAC in 2021. It canceled the deal and instead filed confidentially for an IPO after spinning off its crypto operations.
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