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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.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Here come Earmarks 2.0

DeLauro at a hearing in May 2020. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House Appropriations Committee is preparing to restore a limited version of earmarks, which give lawmakers power to direct spending to their districts to pay for special projects.

Why it matters: A series of scandals involving members in both parties prompted a moratorium on earmarks in 2011. But Democrats argue it's worth the risk to bring them back because earmarks would increase their leverage to pass critical legislation with a narrow majority, especially infrastructure and spending bills.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

UN says Paris carbon-cutting plans fall far short

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Nations' formal emissions-cutting pledges are collectively way too weak to put the world on track to meet the Paris climate deal's temperature-limiting target, a United Nations tally shows.

Driving the news: This morning the UN released an analysis of the most recent nationally determined contributions (NDCs) — that is, countries' medium-term emissions targets submitted under the 2015 pact.