(Bloomberg) — Bill Ackman’s blank-check company suffered its worst stock decline since September after announcing a complex music-industry deal that perplexed investors and analysts.
The special purpose acquisition company, called Pershing Square Tontine Holdings Ltd., fell as much as 15% in New York and closed at $22.06. While that’s still above its listing price of $20, it’s far below the high of almost $33 hit earlier this year.
Ackman’s firm drew the cool reaction after saying it was in talks to buy 10% of Universal Music Group from Vivendi SE in a deal that would value the record company at about $42 billion, including debt. SPACs typically pursue mergers with closely held companies — and that’s the kind of deal investors assumed Ackman was ready to announce.
Instead, Pershing Square Tontine will remain listed with $1.5 billion in cash and continue to search for a new business combination.
It also unveiled a new financial term. Tontine said it would give its investors the right to acquire a stake in a vehicle called a SPARC. That’s a special purchase acquisition rights company, which expected to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
The announcement that confirmed the UMG talks came in the middle of the night U.S. time, with Ackman tweeting that it was coming. He thanked his investors for their patience, and announced he was going to sleep.
Neil Danics, founder of SPAC Analytics, called it a messy transaction that saves Ackman’s blank-check company that was “so large it is extremely hard to succeed.”
“It is financial engineering,” Danics said. “A complex sum-of-the-parts exercise that is just offering the planned UMG IPO a U.S. ADR option and is a way for Pershing to get off the hook from its SPAC obligation.”
(Updates with quotes starting in seventh paragraph)
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