Martin Franklin-led group launches London's first blank cheque IPO of 2020

FILE PHOTO: Martin Franklin, Founder and Chairman of Platform Specialty Products Corp., and Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of Nomad Foods Limited, speaks during an interview with CNBC on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 1, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

(Reuters) - Founders of investment firms Mariposa and Viking have launched an initial public offering (IPO) for a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) on the London Stock Exchange to raise $750 million, a bookrunner said on Wednesday.

Martin Franklin, the London-born founder of Jarden Corp JAH.N, son Robert and longtime partners James Lillie and Ian Ashken will join forces in the listing that is expected to price on Sept 18. Viking founder Brian S. Kaufmann is also involved.

The Harvester Holdings vehicle expects to focus on acquiring an operating company or business with a significant proportion of its activities in North America, the bookrunner said.

A SPAC, or a blank cheque vehicle, is a shell company that uses IPO proceeds to buy another company, typically within two years of listing. The cash is raised before the target is identified and there is no business operations or tangible assets when it lists.

SPACs have emerged as a major driver of IPOs in the United States lately, with high profile investors such as Bill Ackman and Michael Klein raising billions of dollars this year.

“A SPAC is a way of taking that first day lottery out of the window,” a source close to the LSE said. “It’s a good price formation exercise.”

Dealmaker Franklin has started other SPACs, including the SPAC Justice Holdings in 2006, which merged with fast-food chain Burger King six years later.

Reporting by Shanima A in Bengaluru, Clara Denina and Abhinav Ranmarayan in London; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Louise Heavens