Consumer-lending platform and
Blackstone Group Inc.
portfolio company Finance of America Equity Capital LLC is set to go public with a valuation of $1.9 billion through a blank-check merger, this year’s hottest way to list shares, according to people familiar with the matter.
Finance of America is set to merge with the special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC,
Replay Acquisition Corp.
, the people said. In conjunction with the merger, institutional investors will also make a private investment of $250 million in the company. In all, the deal will leave the consumer lender’s founder and funds managed by Blackstone with a 70% ownership stake.
SPACs are all the rage in 2020, quickly having become a favored way for companies to go public in a year when initial public offerings are hotter than ever. Their popularity is a sign that there is more demand for newly listed companies than there are companies going public. So far this year, companies have raised more than $109 billion going public in the U.S., surpassing every other full year on record, according to Dealogic, whose data go back to 1995. SPACs have accounted for almost half of that total.
The sole purpose of SPACs, which are also known as blank-check companies, is to raise money to acquire a private target and take it public. Founders of these shell companies pitch their names or expertise in certain industries; once they have raised a certain amount of money they have a specific amount of time, typically two years, to identify a target. Announced deals are subject to shareholder approval. Finance of America’s services include traditional mortgages, reverse mortgages, commercial-real-estate loans and fixed-income investing. It has grown via a series of acquisitions and over the past roughly five years as a portfolio company of Blackstone’s Tactical Opportunities business, which