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Completed SPAC acquisitions off to rough start in 2022

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The SPAC market's cooldown continues, as the first quarter of 2022 saw the lowest amount of completed acquisitions since the back half of 2020, according to data from PitchBook.

Why it matters: It was only two years ago when everyone in media raced to launch a SPAC.

  • Through March 15, 2022, there were 30 SPAC acquisitions worth about $20 billion. During the fourth quarter of last year, there were 70 acquisitions worth $80 billion.

Driving the news: BuzzFeed's poor performance since going public via a SPAC has had a chilling effect on other media companies.

  • Spinning Eagle Acquisition, from Harry Sloan and Jeff Sagansky, withdrew its plans for an IPO earlier this week. It had filed in June 2021 to raise $2 billion.
  • BDG paused its plans, CEO Bryan Goldberg told Axios last month.
  • Vox Media is focused on growing as a private company, sources also told Axios last month.
  • Group Nine Media formed a SPAC last year but has yet to take a company public with it. Vox Media has since acquired Group Nine, and the SPAC has until January 2023 to make a move.
  • Vice Media raised more private funding after months of SPAC talks.

Be smart: Candle Media co-founders Tom Staggs and Kevin Mayer raised $350 million last year to launch a SPAC, yet all their acquisitions so far — namely Hello Sunshine and Moonbug Entertainment — have been for their Blackstone-backed private company.

Yes, but: Starry isn't alone in persevering to go public via the SPAC route.

  • Digital media company Hypebeast announced Monday that it will list on the Nasdaq through a SPAC merger with Iron Spark I in the third quarter.

What they're saying: "The dearth of potential target companies compared to the frenzy of SPAC issuances was always going to cause some market distortions, and the possibility that the bull market for growth assets might end will only accelerate the number of SPACs that fail to find a target," PitchBook's Cameron Stanfill wrote in a research note Thursday.

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