2022 was the year of the SPAC steeplechase. Just when SPACs thought they had cleared one hurdle, they would turn the corner and find they needed to jump a new and deeper moat. The year, for better or worse, was long and winding. But, through it all there were some noteworthy standouts in the SPAC ecosystem. As such, this is the third annual SPACInsider Awards where we honor the players that stood out in a noteworthy field.
In looking back over 2022, there were 85 IPOs priced, 103 De-SPACs (to-date), 38 underwriters and 58 SPAC IPO law firms. As always, with so many choices, it was very challenging narrowing the categories down to just one winner each. Although, this year one of the categories has two winners…
Nonetheless, the below highlights deals, teams, sponsors, bankers and lawyers we have chosen as standouts in a market crowded with notable participants. However, it should be said that we wanted to give many more awards for each category since so many are worthy. But alas, we had to choose just one. These were our final selections.
BEST COMBINATION (Deal of the Year)
The Riverview Acquisition Corp./WestRock Coffee combination, unanimously wins the Deal of the Year award as best SPAC combination of 2022. In a year where inflation and subsequent Fed Rate Hikes took their toll on earlier stage growth and tech companies, it’s no surprise that WestRock, a company focused on an everyday staple such as coffee, and with solid fundamentals, is the best performing deal of the year. Furthermore, it is currently trading near $13.48 (Nasdaq: WEST), representing a return on the share of roughly 35% for IPO investors. It is the best performing De-SPAC of 2022 and for those reasons, Riverview/WestRock Coffee is 2022’s Deal of the Year. Well Done.
Spring Valley Acquisition Corp. II (Nasdaq: SVII)
2022 saw one of the most challenging IPO environments the capital markets have seen in quite some time. For SPACs, it was even more challenging thanks to additional regulatory headwinds and the unknown of what the new SPAC rule might look like. Despite that, Spring Valley II (Nasdaq: SVII) stood out and gets top spot as Best IPO of 2022. SVII priced its IPO in mid-October, after two successive Fed Rate Hikes of 75bps which created a very challenging market environment in which to price. However, this was also the first team that Citigroup chose to underwrite since they priced their last IPO in February of this year. The Spring Valley team also has the best comeback story of 2021 after having to terminate their first deal with Aerofarms in September. The Spring Valley team subsequently announced a new deal with modular nuclear power plant developer NuScale (Nasdaq: SMR) just a few months later in December 2021. The Spring Valley/NuScale deal went on to close earlier this year in May, and is one of the few SPACs trading above $10.00 at ~$10.38 at the time of this writing. For those reasons, Spring Valley Acquisition Corp. II gets the Best SPAC IPO of the Year award.
The Gores Team
In a year of extremely high redemption rates where just getting a SPAC combination over the finish line felt like an accomplishment in and of itself, there was a team that stood out…The Gores team. The Gores Group brings a wealth of experience having participated as a SPAC sponsor since 2015. They have seen both good and bad markets in prior years and had to pull on all of their experience levers in 2022 to close Gores Guggenheim‘s deal with Polestar (Nadsaq: PSNY). Gores Guggenheim headed to a shareholder vote in June, while undergoing very high volatility in the capital markets and with the average SPAC redemption rate hovering close to 90%. And yet, the Gores Team made a strong marketing push and the Polestar deal closed with just 20.33% redeemed. And that was without any non-redemption agreements helping them with their redemption rate. It was the second best redemption result of the year (out of 103 De-SPACs), just behind CF Acquisition Corp. VI’s combination with Rumble at 0.10%. For this reason, and for the Gores team’s overall experience and prior successes, they receive the Best SPAC Sponsor award for 2022.
As we have mentioned in prior years, there are a number of different ways to evaluate a bank. Volume is one way and De-SPAC performance could be another. But in 2022, the more appropriate measure might be innovation when your clients need it most. And this year, Cantor fits all three of those criteria. Cantor priced six IPOs in 2022, closed 10 De-SPACs, and importantly, were one of the first banks to introduce equity facilities and non-redemption agreements in order to aid in the closing of their Sponsors’ combinations. When the going got tough, the Cantor team got going. Furthermore, their own sponsored SPAC, CF Acquisition Corp. VI, which combined with Rumble (Nasdaq: RUM), had the best vote redemption percentage of the year at 0.10%. For those reasons, Cantor Fitzgerald receives the Best Bank award for 2022.
BEST LAW FIRM
Ellenoff Grossman & Schole LLP and Loeb & Loeb LLP
Best Law Firm is always the most difficult category due to there being so many good choices. In fact, this year the numbers were so close we decided to choose two – Ellenoff Grossman & Schole (“EGS”) and Loeb & Loeb. Looking first at the SPAC IPO Legal League Tables, EGS led based on deal volume of $3.4 billion across 19 SPAC IPOs, while Loeb recorded $2.2 billion in volume across 20 SPAC IPOs. However, both law firms led the Legal IPO League by a wide margin as far as deal count with their nearest competitors recording seven IPOs each (Winston & Strawn, Skadden, and Davis Polk). And if we look at the De-SPAC Legal League Table, Loeb ranked first with $12.7 billion of volume over 22 De-SPAC advisory assignments. EGS had the second most number of assignments at 15 (tied with Latham & Watkins). Both EGS and Loeb & Loeb were extremely active in both the front end and back end of SPAC deals and so, it felt appropriate to name them both Best SPAC Law firms in 2022.