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FinanceA for-profit prison company is going public via SPAC, raising ESG concerns...

A for-profit prison company is going public via SPAC, raising ESG concerns in the blank-check space

A dealer works on the flooring of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on November 29, 2021 in New York City.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

The red-hot SPAC market might have an ESG downside.

Securus Technologies, a prison providers company that makes revenue from charging households of the incarcerated for telephone calls, is in talks to go public via merging with Atlantic Avenue Acquisition Corp, in accordance an individual accustomed to the matter.

While prison providers telecoms are much less scrutinized than firms that function correctional amenities, their for-profit nature and their line of enterprise nonetheless usually make ESG-conscious buyers shrink back. (ESG stands for environmental, social and governance.)

“In a climate focused on ESG, and given criticisms being hurled at SPACs in general, you can see how this combination could become a controversial deal for investors,” stated Perrie Weiner, accomplice at Baker McKenzie LLP.

Securus Technologies and Atlantic Avenue Acquisition Corp did not reply to CNBC’s requests for remark. Bloomberg News first reported on the merger discussions.

SPACs, which stands for particular goal acquisition firms, are created to boost capital from public markets after which use that money to merge with a non-public company and take it public inside a two-year timeframe.

Investors in SPACs as a rule have no idea the id of the agency that shall be focused for merger. After a blockbuster yr, there are at present over 400 SPACs actively in search of a goal company, in keeping with knowledge from Wolfe Research.

Many marvel if pre-merger SPACs are inherently not ESG-friendly with the lack of readability on the place the cash will go in the future.

Bernstein analysts have referred to as SPACs “one of the most anti-ESG assets imaginable” as they fail on the governance facet of issues.

In phrases of the social side, one explicit deal not too long ago raised eyebrows on Wall Street.

In October when Digital World Acquisition Corp. introduced plans to merge with former President Donald Trump’s deliberate social media platform, a minimum of two hedge funds pulled out their investments after studying of the goal company.

“Many investors are grappling with hard questions about how to incorporate their values into their work. For us, this was not a close call,” hedge fund Saba Capital Management founder Boaz Weinstein stated then of his DWAC sale.

As SPACs face regulatory headwinds, many are pivoting to firms with ESG credentials, focusing on both an environmental thesis or social affect theme, equivalent to electrical automobile firms.

“That’s where investor appetite is right now,” Weiner stated. “And, that’s why you will see many private equity firms cut loose companies that fly in the face of ESG, and they will look to SPACs as a quick way to divest themselves of those sorts of negatively perceived investments.”

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