Lakestar founder Klaus Hommels appears on stage at a tech conference in London on October 21, 2014.
Anthony Harvey | Getty Images for TechCrunch
LONDON — The SPAC craze has officially arrived in Europe.
European tech investor Klaus Hommels on Wednesday launched a blank-check firm aimed at snapping up a late-stage tech company in the region.
Hommels, the founder of venture capital firm Lakestar, is looking to fetch up to 275 million euros ($332 million) for his SPAC, which is called Lakestar SPAC I SE.
SPACs, or special purpose acquisition companies, are shell companies that are created with the sole purpose of raising funds to acquire an existing private company so that the target firm can bypass the traditional initial public offering process.
Hommels’ SPAC is expected to list in Frankfurt on Monday under the ticker LRSW. The German venture capitalist’s investments range from the likes of Facebook and Microsoft-owned Skype to financial technology start-up Revolut.
“The European technology sector today offers attractive investment opportunities with promising valuations and many excellent growth companies,” Hommels said in a statement.
“As a team, we are deeply embedded in Europe’s growth-stage and pre-IPO ecosystem and have high-quality access to assets, as well as an extensive deal-sourcing network.”
Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley acted as joint global coordinators on the transaction, according to a press release.
Despite a banner year for blank-check firms in the U.S., Europe has largely missed out on the SPAC boom. SPACs raised a total of $78.2 billion across 244 IPOs. And 2021 has been no different, with U.S. SPACs already raising over half of what they did last year.
Just three SPACs listed in Europe last year, netting $495 million. And not a single SPAC has debuted in the continent so far this year.
Oliver Samwer, founder of the so-called “start-up factory” Rocket Internet, is creating a blank-check firm that aims to merge with a tech company outside of the U.S. But Samwer’s SPAC is listing in New York rather than Europe. A growing number of New York-listed SPACs are looking to snap up tech firms in Europe.
Hommels’ SPAC said it will search for a tech deal over the next 24 months. It’s being touted as the “first tech-focused SPAC in Europe” and one of the first to bring the U.S. SPAC structure to the continent, allowing investors to redeem their shares if they’re unhappy with the target firm.
SPACs tend to be structured differently in the U.S. compared to Europe. And Europe is home to far fewer publicly-listed tech companies than the U.S., making it more difficult for investors and analysts to make comparisons and benchmark firms in the sector.