Shaquille O'Neal, former Disney executives, and Martin Luther King Jr.'s son target $250 million SPAC launch

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  • Basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal, Martin Luther King III, and three former Disney executives are joining forces and backing a new blank-check company.
  • Forest Road Acquisition Corp. aims to raise $US250 million for deals in the tech and media space.
  • Potential targets include intellectual property, “audience aggregation platforms,” and firms in need of capital, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing published Thursday.
  • The special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, comes amid a frenzy for the investment vehicles. More than $US53 billion has been raised through SPAC initial public offerings in 2020 so far.
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With 2020 hosting a flood of special-purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, it can be hard for some to stand out from the rest.

Forest Road Acquisition Corp. shouldn’t have that issue as basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal, Martin Luther King III, and several former Disney executives lead the blank-check firm to launch.

The SPAC aims to raise $US250 million for potential acquisitions in the tech and media industry, including intellectual property, “audience aggregation platforms,” and firms in need of capital, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing published Thursday.

O’Neal will serve as the firm’s strategic advisor, and is described in the filing as having “a keen eye for investing in successful ventures.” King III, the eldest son of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., will work as one of the company’s directors.


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Tom Staggs, a former chief operating officer at Disney, will serve as chairperson of the SPAC’s strategic advisory committee. Former Disney strategy executive Salil Mehta will work as Forest Road’s chief financial officer. Kevin Mayer, former CEO of TikTok and chief strategy officer at Disney, will serve as a strategic advisor. Mayer also led the launch of Disney+ in November 2019.

The team’s “distinguished and long-term track record of sourcing, acquiring, and building next-generation media and entertainment platforms” will aid the SPAC’s leaders in providing “differentiated consumer insights and sourcing opportunities,” Forest Road said in the filing.

So-called blank-check companies raise cash through an initial public offering with the intention of merging with a private firm and taking the combined entity public. Investors who buy into a SPAC’s IPO are typically in the dark as to what company will be targeted. While some hail the vehicles as a better way to take companies public, others view SPACs as too lightly regulated.

More than $US53 billion has been raised across 138 SPAC debuts in 2020, according to SPACInsider.com. That sum trounces the $US13.6 billion raised last year. The average IPO size has increased to $US388 million this year from $US230 million.


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