The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

On The Radar

Lufthansa Aviation Hub Report Claims the SPAC eVTOL Bubble Has Burst

A new report from the Lufthansa Aviation Hub argues that initial public offerings backed by special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) have fallen out of favor recently, following a period early last year when they accounted for 90 percent of all money raised on public markets in the U.S. The German airline’s research arm spells out the reasons behind this claimed shift in fortunes and explains its significance to the advanced air mobility sector.

Ultimately, 2021 recorded more than 600 SPACs—a record high far beyond anything financial markets had seen before. SPACs—which the report describes as essentially big pools of cash listed on a stock exchange—allow investors to find a private company, buy it and take it public quickly. Wall Street insiders refer to SPACs “blank check companies” because investors backing a SPAC invest their money up to two years before the identification of an acquisition target, hoping that the instrument’s sponsors find a good deal. 

The report notes that the SPAC “hype” has gripped the eVTOL air taxi and autonomous driving sectors strongly over the past couple of years. In fact, more than half of what the report calls the most promising 10 air taxi startups announced SPAC mergers in the past 24 months. This year, however, Lufthansa Aviation Hub’s analysts maintain that SPACs have drifted into what their report calls a toxic and murky region of the market shunned by investors.

Average SPAC redemption rates in February—meaning the share of announced SPACs where investors redeem their investments pre-deal closure—stood at 88 percent. The report explains that this means the vast majority of them have lost interest or trust in their respective SPAC sponsors and/or the overall market environment and pull out their money rather than converting into shares of their SPAC targets.

Meanwhile, the report notes the overall steep decline in SPAC announcements in this year’s first quarter compared with the same period two years ago. Even worse, it added, most of the SPACs that turned into publicly listed companies have lost value over the past two years.

The report concludes with an assessment of the various reasons for the decline, including a changing regulatory environment and the psychological effect of SPAC underperformance.   

“It appears that, combined, these factors are cutting off SPACs from many of the ingredients that fueled the explosive movement in the first place,” concluded the report.