6 charts show which banks are dominating the SPAC gold rush

  • There were 386 SPAC IPOs in the first half of 2021.
  • That puts this year already well ahead of the 256 SPAC IPOs in all of 2020. 
  • Citi, Goldman, and Credit Suisse are dominating on SPAC IPOs. 

There have already been more blank-check IPOs this year than in all of 2020. But the

rush cooled in the second quarter after a frenzy of debuts in the first three months

There were 386 SPAC IPOs worldwide in the first half of 2021, according to Refinitiv data. That topped last year’s 256 IPOs, which had been a record high. Much of the 2021 activity was in the first quarter, which had 258 global SPAC IPOs. 

In 2021, SPACs have notched $110 billion in issuance worldwide, according to Refinitiv data, likewise eclipsing last year’s total of $79.3 billion. Total issuance in 2019 was just $14.7 billion. 

SPACs raise capital and go public without any revenue or operating assets. They then typically have two years to deploy that capital by buying a private company and taking it public via the deal.

SPACs exploded in popularity thanks to investor demand to get in early on companies promising big growth and a desire among companies for a way to go public through a more streamlined process than a typical IPO.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has been looking to rein in growth projections that listed SPACs make. On Tuesday, the SEC announced it charged a space-transportation SPAC, Stable Road Acquisition Company, and its CEO, along with its sponsor and its target merger company, Momentus. The SEC alleged they made misleading claims about Momentus and the national security risks that its founder and former CEO Mikhail Kokorich posed. 

The SEC also charged Kokorich, whose case is proceeding, but the other parties settled for $8 million in penalties and must tailor their investor protection undertakings. If the SPAC does merge with Momentus, its sponsor, SRC-N1, will also have to forfeit the founder’s share it would usually receive.

David Solomon, CEO of Goldman Sachs, said in mid-April that while SPACs are likely here for the long term, they need to be regulated better.

“We continue to believe that providing sponsors a mechanism to access public markets for capital formation is an innovation that’s here to stay,” he said during the bank’s first-quarter earnings call on April 14.

Still, the SPAC rush has been a boon for the bookrunners at investment banks who work on the IPOs and subsequent deals happen.

Of the 25 banks tracked by Refinitiv, Citigroup is in the lead for 2021, having advised on 78 SPAC IPOs so far this year. Goldman follows with 50 SPAC IPOs, and Credit Suisse is third with 47 SPAC IPOs.

These three also led the first-quarter rankings, but Citigroup pulled away from other banks in the second half, with $15.8 billion in proceeds, up from $10.5 billion in the first quarter. 

Goldman was the only other bank that worked on IPOs with proceeds totalling more than $10 billion in the first half of 2021 — $11.9 billion, up from $9.2 billion in the first quarter. And Credit Suisse notched $9.2 billion in the first half, up from $6.6 billion in the first quarter.

We tabulated Refinitiv’s data in six graphs to demonstrate the surge in SPAC IPOs and mergers-and-acquisitions activity — and to show which banks are dominating. 




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