Markets Jan 03

Perella Weinberg joins SPAC splurge with Nasdaq listing plan

Merger deal values boutique US investment bank at $975 million and is likely to allow partners to have a supermajority that will enable them to retain full control

by Anirban Sen
Perella Weinberg joins SPAC splurge with Nasdaq listing plan
Perella Weinberg cofounder Peter Weinberg addresses an economic forum in New York in 2017. File photo by Reuters.

Perella Weinberg Partners (PWP) has agreed to go public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) backed by banking entrepreneur Betsy Cohen, just as the boutique investment bank is hit by a slump in revenues.

The deal, one of the latest in a spate of high-profile SPAC transactions, values PWP at $975 million. However, PWP's revenues fell about 9% in 2020, according to regulatory filings related to the listing.

The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2021, pending approvals.

Cohen's FinTech Acquisition Corporation IV will list the merged entity on the Nasdaq under the symbol PWP, the companies said in a statement. PWP's partners will continue to own the majority of the investment bank and are likely to have a supermajority that will allow them to retain full control. 

PWP was founded in 2006 by the legendary mergers and acquisitions banker Joe Perella and Peter Weinberg, a longtime Goldman Sachs executive whose family had been at the top of that lender for decades. It is best known for its deal-making, including acting on the $3.2-billion buyout of SodaStream by PepsiCo and American International Group's $5.56 billion acquisition of reinsurer Validus Holdings.

Long time brewing

PWP has been planning to go public for several years and hired Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase to advise it on a listing in 2018. PWP also has a separate asset management business, with $10bn in assets, that will remain independent of the listed company. 

SPACs raise funds in an IPO with the aim of buying a private company and have become immensely popular investment vehicles this year. The acquired company then becomes public as result of the merger and it is an alternative to the traditional IPO process.

At least 208 SPACs have raised more than $70 billion in 2020, according to SPAC Research, a data provider.

Cohen has had a colourful career as one of the earliest female entrepreneurs in the commercial banking industry. She founded her first bank, Jefferson Bank, in 1974 and later went on to set up businesses in Hong Kong and Brazil.

Separately, Perella Weinberg had said it was planning an IPO of its blank-check firm PWP Forward Acquisition Corp I, which will be led by Stacia Schlosser Ryan.

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SPAC US investment banking Perella Weinberg Betsy Cohen