LI-based Kensington raises $230M for blank-check company

A Westbury-based team of former auto industry executives has raised $230 million for the latest in its series of blank-check companies.

Kensington Capital Acquisition Corp. IV, led by chairman and chief executive Justin Mirro of Great Neck, earlier this month sold 23 million units at a price of $10 in its initial public offering.

The IPO was floated despite a sharp downturn this year in the market for special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), also known as blank-check companies, and other speculative assets.

Fifty-one companies have filed SPAC IPOs so far this year, far off the pace of 631 for all of 2021, according to data from SPACInsider.

Still, Mark Davis, national managing partner of Deloitte Private Enterprises for Deloitte & Touche LLP, said that SPACs remain a workable path to the public markets.

“SPACs are a viable vehicle for companies to lock in a valuation and access capital needed to grow and compete,” he said.

A SPAC, or blank-check company, is a shell company that raises money on the strength of the reputation of its executives. After the IPO, the shell company launches a search for an operating company to bring to the public markets through a merger. Typically, the shell company has a time limit of 18 or 24 months to complete a merger before the IPO funds must be returned to investors.

Once a merger is complete, the shell company disappears.

In traditional IPOs, private companies enlist underwriters and go through a lengthy process where they disclose their financials and seek to attract institutional investors before debuting on an exchange.

The Kensington Capital team has brought two companies to market via SPACs: QuantumScape Corp., which is developing next-generation batteries for electric vehicles, and Wallbox N.V., which manufactures charging stations for electric cars.

Both stocks are trading far off their 52-week highs ($64.80 and $27.50), but above the $10 price typical for SPAC IPOs.

Along with Mirro, who worked as an investment banker and an engineer for General Motors in Detroit and Toyota in Japan, the management team includes vice chairman and president Dieter Zetsche, the former CEO of Daimler AG, who oversaw the de-merger of Daimler and Chrysler in 2007.

The prospectus for Kensington’s latest IPO says it will seek a merger target in the “global automotive and automotive-related sector.”

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