Singapore lists first SPAC as Asia investors warm up to blank check firms

Singapore lists first SPAC as Asia investors warm up to blank check firms
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Updated 20 January 2022

Singapore lists first SPAC as Asia investors warm up to blank check firms

Singapore lists first SPAC as Asia investors warm up to blank check firms
  • The listing of Vertex Venture's SPAC also marks the first major debut of such vehicles in Asia

 A small blank-check firm backed by state investor Temasek made its Singapore debut on Thursday, marking the first such local listing as Singapore steps up a drive to emerge as a key venue for listings of this type.


This came four months after Singapore Exchange allowed special purpose acquisition companies or shell firms to list, easing proposed rules in response to market feedback.


The listing of Vertex Venture's SPAC also marks the first major debut of such vehicles in Asia since the frenzy seen in the United States in early 2021 prior to regulatory changes there.


"As the first SPAC in Singapore, we had to tread through difficult and unchartered waters," Chua Kee Lock, CEO of Vertex Venture, a Temasek subsidiary, told company executives, bankers and lawyers at a listing ceremony.


With an eye on sectors such as cyber security and fintech, Vertex Technology Acquisition Corp raised S$200 million ($148 million), with 13 cornerstone investors such as Temasek-linked entities and a fund operated by Dymon Asia, contributing 55 percent.


The SPAC last traded little changed from its offer price of S$5 per unit after being heavily oversubscribed.


Vertex Venture, the sponsor, which manages $5.1 billion of assets with a portfolio of 200-plus companies, has up to two years to find a target.


"The point is to attract high-growth technology companies which conventionally would not have considered this market and now they have sponsors who can take over the risk also," Chua told Reuters this week.


SPACs raise money in public offerings, put it in a trust and then aim to merge with a private company and take it public, typically offering shorter listing timeframes and strong valuations.


Another SPAC, Pegasus Asia, backed by European asset manager Tikehau Capital and a holding firm of LVMH's chairman, among others, raised S$150 million and plans to invest in tech-enabled sectors. It lists on Friday.


A S$150 million SPAC sponsored by Southeast Asian industrial and technology buyout fund Novo Tellus Capital Partners, got investment from a Temasek unit and others. It lists next week.


Southeast Asia is seeing a boom in start-up funding as investors bet on post-pandemic technology plays.


SGX is offering a regulatory framework similar to that in the United States, including allowing participation of retail investors but also requires sponsors to invest in SPACs.


Analysts say risks include SPACs overvaluing companies and not finding ideal targets.


'HERE TO STAY'
"While there will always be gyrations in the market, we believe the SPAC framework is here to stay and complements the traditional IPO route," Mohamed Nasser Ismail, SGX's head of equity capital markets, told Reuters.


By focusing on sponsors' track records and ensuring their compulsory investment in SPACs, SGX is optimistic about SPAC listings.


While considered one of Asia's leading financial and business hubs, Singapore has not captured big IPOs. Last year, fundraising on SGX halved to $565 million, a six-year low, with just eight listings, Refinitiv data shows.


Hong Kong, home to large Chinese listings, is also allowing SPAC listings from this year but bars participation from retail investors.

Eng-Kwok Seat Moey, DBS' head of capital markets, said SPACs are being accepted by many investors as an alternative to gain access to start-ups which typically tap private equity markets.


"Several Singaporean and regional companies in high-growth, high-tech sectors will be mature for listing on public markets in the coming years," she said, adding that these would emerge as business combination targets for SPACs listed on SGX.


Credit Suisse and DBS are the joint issue managers on the Vertex SPAC, and joint global coordinators, with Morgan Stanley. 


Diriyah Gate will contribute $7.2bn to Saudi GDP, says Abdullah Taibah

Diriyah Gate will contribute $7.2bn to Saudi GDP, says Abdullah Taibah
Updated 14 sec ago

Diriyah Gate will contribute $7.2bn to Saudi GDP, says Abdullah Taibah

Diriyah Gate will contribute $7.2bn to Saudi GDP, says Abdullah Taibah

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s historic city development project, The Diriyah Gate, will contribute SR27 billion ($7.2 billion) to Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product upon its completion, according to Abdullah Taibah, senior advisor to CEO, the Royal Commission for Riyadh City. 

While talking at the Saudi-Thai Economic Forum on May 16, Taibah said that the project will also create around 120,000 jobs, and will surely emerge as one of the most popular destinations in Saudi Arabia. 

Known as Saudi’s cultural capital, Diriyah is located just 20 minutes northwest of Riyadh’s city center. The plan is to transform the historic city into one of the world’s leading “lifestyle destinations for culture and heritage, hospitality, retail, and education,” according to a government website. 

Taibah spoke of some of the other ambitious projects that are set to transform the Kingdom into a land of global attraction as Saudi moves ahead with achieving Vision 2030 goals.  

Calling the King Salman Park, the “Lungs of Riyadh,” he revealed that this site will have plenty of green space, with lots of arts and sports activities. 

Talking about the Qiddiya project, Taibah said, “This place will be developed over 316 square km. It will include eight family-friendly theme parks. It will include the longest Formula One track of about 7.8 km and it’s supposed to be attracting 48 million visitors.” 

He added that the Riyadh Art project will install more than 1,000 public art installations from local and international artists. 

Talking about improving city transport infrastructure, Taibah noted that the King Abdulaziz metro project will cover 176 km in Riyadh with 85 stations. 

“These stations will be spread around the city covering the most populated areas connecting King Khalid (International Airport) from the north, all the way to King Abdullah Financial District and other populated areas,” he added. 

 


Bahraini oil refineries’ profit margin rises to an all time high, oil minister tells Asharq

Bahraini oil refineries’ profit margin rises to an all time high, oil minister tells Asharq
Updated 7 min ago

Bahraini oil refineries’ profit margin rises to an all time high, oil minister tells Asharq

Bahraini oil refineries’ profit margin rises to an all time high, oil minister tells Asharq

RIYADH: The profit margin of Bahraini oil refineries has risen to its highest historical level in the industry, the country's minister of oil and gas said in an interview with Asharq.

Mohammed bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa also added that Bahrain Petroleum Co. refinery’s expansion is over 80 percent complete. 

Expansion of the main oil refinery is in progress which will raise the total capacity to around 400,000 barrels per day, he added. 

The Bahrain Petroleum Co. refinery expansion project will raise the current production capacity from 267,000 barrels to 360,000 barrels per day, according to Asharq.

Bahrain has more than 30 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves, and imports about 80 percent of its crude oil from Saudi Arabia.


Saudi crude oil exports fall 1% in March, biggest monthly decline in year: JODI

Saudi crude oil exports fall 1% in March, biggest monthly decline in year: JODI
Updated 12 min 14 sec ago

Saudi crude oil exports fall 1% in March, biggest monthly decline in year: JODI

Saudi crude oil exports fall 1% in March, biggest monthly decline in year: JODI

Saudi Arabia's crude oil exports fell by 72,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 1 percent month-on-month in March, data from the Joint Organisations Data Initiative, also known as JODI, reveal. 

Exports decreased to 7.235 million bpd from 7.307 million bpd in February. The decline is the biggest since March 2021 when exports fell 3.5 percent.

The volume of crude oil output has continued to grow for the eleventh month in a row. 

The output grew by 75,000 bpd in March to 10.300 million bpd. Production rose by 0.7 percent from 10.225 million bpd in February. 


Wheat prices hit record high after India export ban

Wheat prices hit record high after India export ban
Updated 31 min 58 sec ago

Wheat prices hit record high after India export ban

Wheat prices hit record high after India export ban

Wheat prices surged to a record high on Monday after India decided to ban exports of the commodity as a heatwave hit production.

The price — which was already high in the wake of Russia’s invasion of major wheat exporter Ukraine — jumped to 435 euros ($453) per ton as the European market opened.
 


Shares in Saudi Tadawul gain despite a decline in profits

Shares in Saudi Tadawul gain despite a decline in profits
Updated 46 min 21 sec ago

Shares in Saudi Tadawul gain despite a decline in profits

Shares in Saudi Tadawul gain despite a decline in profits

RIYADH: Saudi Tadawul Group’s stock gained in the afternoon trading session on Monday, despite the company posting lower first-quarter profit yesterday.

As of 2:04 p.m. Saudi time, the Kingdom’s bourse operator had seen its shares rise 3.15 percent to SR209.80 ($56), up from SR203.2 at the previous close.

The company reported lower profits yesterday, dropping 21 percent to SR141 million in the first quarter, from SR180 million for the same quarter last year.