Special-purpose acquisition companies – publicly traded entities that essentially become pools of cash to acquire an existing operation and make it public – have become “the thing” for a number of companies going public in a volatile market this year, despite the SPAC mechanism being around for decades.
Now technology and media targets are in focus for a new SPAC led by basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal, along with three former Disney executives and one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s sons.
Forest Road Acquisition Corp., a so-called “blank check” shell formed by film-financing company Forest Road, is raising $250M for deals.
Forest Road CEO Zachary Tarica will be chairman of the SPAC, while former Elliott Management COO Keith Horn will be SPAC CEO. Former Disney Chief Operating Officer (and onetime Disney CEO heir apparent) Tom Staggs will be chairperson of its strategic advisory committee, and former Disney strategy exec Salil Mehta will be chief financial officer.
Meanwhile, O’Neal (who moved heavily into business investment after his NBA career) will be a strategic adviser, as will Kevin Mayer – recently CEO of TikTok, and former chief of Disney Plus. And Martin Luther King III will be a director.
It’s interesting to speculate where O’Neal and crew could look to bring a company public, particularly in the wake of news that the owner of the Boston Red Sox and soccer’s Liverpool FC may be going public via Billy Beane and RedBall Acquisition Corp.
The Forest Road SPAC filing suggests it might be looking in the streaming-media direction; it will identify TMT businesses that align with particular themes: “new audience aggregation platforms transforming the TMT landscape; premium intellectual property driving significant value expansion; consumer behavior fundamentally changing; cutting-edge technologies facilitating new offerings; evolving ecosystem reshaping traditional business models; and companies in need of capital due to idiosyncratic market conditions.”
It’s looking to list on NYSE under the symbol FRX.