By Stuart Condie
SYDNEY–Integral Acquisition Corp. 1 is targeting an Australian or New Zealand technology company for a Nasdaq listing after the Covid-19 pandemic kept the region from partaking in the recent boom in special-purpose acquisition companies, its CEO said.
Integral raised $115 million this month in an initial public offering on the Nasdaq and is canvassing for tech targets in areas including finance, human resources, health, cybersecurity and software-as-a-service.
Integral is the only listed SPAC solely focused on Australia and New Zealand, according to data provider SPAC Track. Chief Executive Enrique Klix, a former Citigroup Inc. and McKinsey & Co. executive, said he spent the last year setting up Integral in Melbourne from behind Australia’s closed international border.
“Australia and New Zealand have been in lockdown mode with their borders closed for the last 18 months. And that’s when SPACs boomed,” Mr. Klix told Dow Jones Newswires last week in an interview.
SPACs give startups the chance to go public more quickly and with less scrutiny than with a traditional initial public offering. A Nasdaq listing also positions tech companies closer to their likely markets, said Mr. Klix, who led a turnaround at ASX-listed packaging-materials firm Orora Ltd.’s fiber business prior to its divestment.
“You end up realizing that the center of gravity is in the U.S. from a capital markets point of view and eventually your business gravitates towards the U.S.,” Mr. Klix said.
“There are two companies on the ASX that their center of gravity changed to the U.S. and another regretting being listed here.”
Mr. Klix said the companies were in the tech space but wouldn’t name them.
ASX-listed Splitit Payments Inc. this week said American depositary receipts in the company will trade on the over-the-counter exchange OTCQX in an effort to increase its exposure to U.S. brokers, analysts and investors.
Another ASX-listed buy-now-pay-later company, Sezzle Inc., has said it is investigating a U.S. listing. Larger installment payment companies Zip Co. and Afterpay Ltd., the latter of which is being acquired by Square Inc., both generate more revenue from the U.S. than any other market.
The industries of the largest companies in Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index indicated that local investors weren’t quick to adapt to new technological trends, Mr. Klix said. Local analysts may lack the expertise to value high-growth tech firms amid a shortage of comparables, he added.
Australia’s top 10 listed companies by market capitalization includes five banks, two retail groups, global miner BHP Group Ltd. and communications provider Telstra Corp., which was formerly state-owned. Biotech firm CSL Ltd. is the tenth, but even that started life as a government entity in 1916.
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