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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Five companies this morning announced plans to go public via reverse mergers with SPACs, at an aggregate market value of more than $15 billion. And there might be even more by the time you read this.

The bottom line: SPAC merger activity hasn't peaked. If anything, it's just getting started.

Driving the news:

  • Alight, a Blackstone Group-backed benefits services provider, for $7.3 billion by a Bill Foley-led SPAC.
  • The Hillman Group, a home improvement hardware maker owned by CCMP Capital, for $2.6 billion to a SPAC led by Tilman Fertitta and Rich Handler.
  • Taboola, a VC-backed content recommendation company, for $2.6 billion by a Gilad Shany-led SPAC.
  • Latch, a VC-backed smart lock startup, for $1.56 billion by a SPAC formed by Tishman Speyer Properties.
  • Sunlight Financial, a private equity-backed residential solar financing platform, for $1.3 billion by a SPAC formed by Apollo Global Management.

Coming attractions: More SPAC merger announcements are anticipated shortly, including deals in the EV, ed-tech and aerospace sectors.

What's happening: A lot of this can just be chalked up to supply and demand, the predictable consequence of surging private funding flows and a record amount of new SPAC issuance.

  • I'm also hearing an argument that private market investors, and their portfolio companies, are increasingly worried about a valuation bubble. SPACs provide a quicker route to listing than do traditional IPOs, thus lowering the risk of finding themselves on the wrong side of a pop or deflation.
  • The counterargument is that SPACs aren't quite as fast as they're sometimes made out to be. In the case of Alight, for example, a source tells me that Blackstone began talking to Bill Foley last August, with serious negotiations beginning a couple of months ago. Today's announced deal does have committed PIPE financing, but still requires a SPAC shareholder vote and isn't slated to close until sometime in Q2.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Updated Jan 27, 2021 - Technology

Apple's quarterly sales top $100 billion for first time

Credit: Apple

Spurred by strong sales of the latest iPhones, Apple reported it took in a record $111 billion in revenue for the three months ended Dec. 31, as the company crushed expectations.

Why it matters: The move showed even a pandemic didn't dull demand for Apple's latest smartphones.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will not seek re-election in 2022

Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) speaking during a press conference in November 2021. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), a moderate who typically ranks as one of the nation's most popular governors, said Wednesday that he and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito (R) will not seek third terms in 2022.

Why it matters: The decision leaves the gubernatorial race wide open and will likely affect multiple down-ballot races next year. Baker was expected to be the front-runner had he joined the race.

3 hours ago - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.