A special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) backed by a group of former Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley executives has agreed to buy Taiwanese smart scooter and electric battery maker Gogoro in a deal that values it at US$2.35 billion.
Poema Global Holdings Corp, a US-listed blank-cheque company, will absorb Gogoro in a merger, allowing the Taipei-based firm to list on Nasdaq under the symbol "GGR" through the transaction, according to a statement.
Taipei-based Gogoro was founded in 2011, and its early investors include Singapore's Temasek Holdings, former US Vice-President Al Gore's Generation Investment Management and Sumitomo Corp of Japan. It operates a network of 2,175 battery swapping stations, manages more than 270,000 daily battery swaps and has chalked up 200 million cumulative swaps as of August.
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Gogoro's current management, including its founder and chief executive Horace Luke, will continue to lead the company after the listing.
"Gogoro is transforming urban mobility in the world's most densely populated cities by changing how people use and share portable energy," Luke said. "Much of today's world commutes on two wheels and cities are embracing sustainable energy and smart city technologies in unprecedented ways."
The firm is the latest among electric vehicle makers to take the SPAC route to a US listing as so-called blank-cheque companies target growth and emerging technology companies for deals. Other notable SPAC mergers in the EV space include Faraday Future, Nikola Corp and Fisker.
Poema Global is backed by Princeville Capital, a global growth-stage investment firm founded in 2016 by former Deutsche Bank executives Emmanuel DeSousa and Joaquin Rodriguez Torres. It raised US$345 million in an initial public offering in January and counts Homer Sun, the former chief investment officer of Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia, as its CEO.
"We believe the technology differentiation Gogoro has developed in combination with the world-class partnerships it has forged will drive significant growth opportunities in the two largest two-wheeler markets in the world," Sun said.
The Poema-Gogora merger is expected to add US$550 million of cash to Gogoro's balance sheet. The proceeds will be used to fund its expansion into China, India and other markets, as well as for research and development. The firm plans to venture into battery-swapping in mainland China later this year.
To complete the deal, Poema Global raised additional private investment in public equity (PIPE) financing. The PIPE investors include existing investors, manufacturing and strategic partners, as well as new financial and institutional investors, it added.
SPACs have been one of the hottest fundraising trends since the beginning of 2020, raising US$124 billion this year alone, according to SPAC Analytics, a research firm focused on the investment vehicles. SPACs are shells created to raise financial war chests and buy assets within a limited period of time, usually 18 months to 24 months.
Companies including Southeast Asia's most valuable technology unicorn Grab Holdings, cooking recipe hub DayDayCook founded by former HSBC banker Norma Chu, Singapore-based real estate listing portal PropertyGuru and Tim Hortons China have all agreed to go public in the US via SPAC mergers this year.
Singapore recently announced new rules to enable SPACs to go public in the city-state from this month. Hong Kong is exploring the idea and could unveil a consultation paper on proposed changes to its listing rules as soon as this month.
The investment vehicles have remained popular among Asian sponsors and target companies despite a slowdown in the pace of fundraising, from a blistering US$95 billion in the first quarter, and heightened regulatory concerns.
US regulators have also considered adopting tougher disclosure rules for listings by blank-cheque companies. China Securities Regulatory Commission chairman Yi Huiman warned this month that SPACs and other non-traditional listing models, such as direct listings, are posing disruptive challenges to traditional IPO market.
The Poema-Gogoro deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next year and is subject to approval by both sets of shareholders.
The law firm Kirkland & Ellis is advising Poema Global, while Goldman Sachs and the law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati are advising Gogoro. Citigroup and UBS served as joint placement agents on the PIPE offering.
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