The IPO Buzz: March Opens with 1 SPAC & All Eyes on Ukraine

March is off to a subdued start with only 1 SPAC – Valuence Merger Corp. I (VMCAU) – making its trading debut today as all eyes are on Russia’s escalation of attacks on Ukraine. U.S. stocks opened lower and extended their decline by midday, following their drop on Monday (Feb. 28), the first trading day after Western nations began blocking Russian bank access to the SWIFT messaging system.

No traditional IPOs have been scheduled yet for pricing in March.

“It’s going to be on hiatus until things stabilize,” a veteran IPO investor says.

Valuence Merger Corp. I priced its SPAC IPO on Monday night (Feb. 28, 2022) in line with the terms in its prospectus: 20 million units at $10 each to raise $200 million. Valuence became the 45th SPAC priced so far in 2022. SVB Leerink was the sole book-runner and Baird was the lead manager.

The units (stock and warrants) of Valuence Merger Corp. 1 began trading today (March 1) on NASDAQ. Valuence Merger’s stock opened at 10:51 a.m. EST at $10.01 on volume of 1.5 million shares, according to NASDAQ. The stock closed at $10.00, its IPO price.

Valuence Merger Corp. I will tap into its partnerships with a South Korean venture capital firm, Crystal BioSciences Co. Ltd. (CBS) and Credian, a private equity firm based in South Korea, to help it search for an Asian company that is developing breakthrough technology in the life sciences or advancing a platform for sustainable technology. Its involvement in Asia, however, will not include a business combination or an acquisition of any company in China, Hong Kong or Macau, the prospectus says.

“We will also collaborate with Nobuyuki Idei and his team at Quantum Leaps Corporation (“Quantum Leaps”), a Japan-based consulting firm focused on corporate strategy and innovation for growth-stage companies in Japan and Asia. Quantum Leaps was founded by Mr. Idei in 2006 with the goal of identifying and cultivating emerging companies in Japan and Asia to work together and build qualitative growth,” Valuence Merger says in the prospectus.

Before founding Quantum Leaps, Idei had over 45 years of experience working at Sony, where he was the president from 1995 to 1999 and the chairman plus CEO from 2000 to 2005, according to the prospectus. During his 10-year tenure as Sony’s leader, Idei’s successes included the development of the Sony Walkman cassette player and the audio CD player, the partnership with Intel to create the VAIO computer line, and the creation of the Sony PlayStation.

Lean Fare for Fat Tuesday

This week’s IPO Calendar is light. Two more SPAC IPOs are set for pricing tonight (March 1) – just as scaled-back festivities for Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”) wind down in New Orleans:

  • Kensington Capital Acquisition Corp. IV (KCAC.U proposed), an automotive-focused SPAC – 20 million units at $10 each to raise $200 million – UBS Investment Bank, Stifel and Baird are the joint book-runners.
  • Sound Point Acquisition Corp. I (SPCMU proposed), a SPAC backed by alternative asset manager Sound Point Capital – 20 million units at $10 each to raise $200 million – BofA Securities and J.P. Morgan are the joint book-runners.

This week’s lean fare is in sync with the exceptionally light volume in the last week of February, when bankers raised $575 million by pricing three SPAC IPOs. Akanda Corp. (AKAN proposed), a small-cap cannabis IPO, was postponed. A handful of SPAC IPOs were withdrawn.

Meanwhile, at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s filing window, the pace is slow. A steady stream of SPAC IPOs, a handful of small-cap Chinese IPOs, a small bank IPO and a few tiny uplistings are in the mix.

Stay tuned.

(Never trade on proposed symbols. You might wind up owning something on the OTC Bulletin Board.)

Disclosure: Nobody on the staff has a position in any stocks mentioned above, nor do they trade or invest in IPOs. The staff does not issue advice, recommendations or opinions.