SPACs hit the road to Washington

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The U.S. Capitol dome in Washington, April 21, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

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WASHINGTON, July 16 (Reuters Breakingviews) - Special purpose acquisition companies have gone so mainstream that they now have a trade group in Washington. The SPAC Association will include investors, sponsors, investment banks, auditors and others, Politico reported on Thursday. But with too many competing interests inside the tent, the new group’s influence on the Hill could be dulled.

It's not as if blank-check companies don’t need some D.C. help. The Securities and Exchange Commission has said it will be tougher on conflicts of interests, inflated projections and inadequate disclosures used by these firms, which buy privately held growth companies and give them a rapid stock-market listing. On Tuesday, the agency charged space-transport firm Momentus, its SPAC partner, sponsors for misleading claims about their planned merger.

Lobby groups work best when they are sharply focused and unified. Yet the SPAC Association doesn’t represent a single team. One big conflict in SPACs is between sponsors, who often get big payouts whether the target they acquire is good or middling, and their public investors. Target companies’ backers have yet another set of incentives. With so many different interests, the SPAC lobby is already at risk of being off-message. (By Gina Chon)

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Editing by Jennifer Saba and Amanda Gomez

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