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Mumbai calling... Could India be the next big markets for SPACs? The US markets raised a whopping $66 billion so far this year using this route. Image Credit: PTI

Mumbai: 'Blank-check' companies are increasingly looking to India for acquisition targets, which will keep the country's recent deal-making streak going, according to Nomura Holdings Inc.

ReNew Power last week agreed to merge with a US-listed Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) in a deal that will give India's biggest renewable power producer an enterprise value of $8 billion. Online grocer Grofers is also looking to go public in the US through a merger with a blank-check company.

"SPAC-led transactions are expected to increase in the coming years in India," Utpal Oza, head of investment banking for India at Nomura, said. "Wherever you've got businesses which have caught the fancy of international investors especially in sectors such as renewables, tech or e-commerce, where the corporate structure enables it to be merged quite easily, you will see SPAC activity."

$66billion

What SPACs have raised in the US in the year-to-date

Whipping up growth

A blank-check company is a shell company that raises money from public investors with the goal of acquiring a business within two years. These deals - some sponsored by the rich and famous including Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li and ex-Credit Suisse chief Tidjane Thiam - have raised more than $66 billion in the US alone just this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Singapore could join the bandwagon soon. The country's exchange is consulting the market on allowing SPACs to go public, and could see its first such listing this year if it gets enough support. As many as 10 Indian companies could go public through SPAC deals before the end of the year and the trend could accelerate if Singapore's blank-check firm listings are permitted, Oza said.

Nomura also expects more initial public offerings in India this year, with sentiment buoyed by the post-debut performance of recently listed companies, said Mangesh Ghogre, its head of equity capital markets for India.

IPO gainers

In 2020, companies raised about $4.6 billion through first-time share sales in the nation and their shares are now trading more than 50 per cent above their IPO prices on average. Nomura ranked second as IPO arranger in India last year, just behind Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd., according to the Bloomberg league table.

About $1.7 billion has been raised so far this year, while State Bank of India is preparing its mutual fund joint venture for an offering that could raise $1 billion, Bloomberg News reported last week. "The IPO pop on the listing day has meant there's been value left on the table for investors," Ghogre said. "This has given a strong confidence for the IPOs in 2021 will also receive strong reception."