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

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  • The basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal, Martin Luther King III, and three former Disney executives are joining forces to back a new blank-check company.
  • Forest Road Acquisition Corp. aims to raise $250 million for deals in the tech and media space.
  • Potential targets include intellectual property, “audience aggregation platforms,” and “companies in need of capital,” a Securities and Exchange Commission filing published Thursday said.
  • The special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, comes amid a frenzy for the investment vehicles. More than $53 billion has been raised through SPAC initial public offerings in 2020 so far.
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With 2020 bringing 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 the basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal, Martin Luther King III, and three former Disney executives are leading the blank-check firm to launch.

The SPAC aims to raise $250 million for acquisitions in the tech and media industry, including intellectual property, “audience aggregation platforms,” and “companies in need of capital,” a Securities and Exchange Commission filing published Thursday said.

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, the eldest son of the 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 the chair of the SPAC’s strategic advisory committee. Salil Mehta, a former Disney strategy executive, will be Forest Road’s chief financial officer. Kevin Mayer, a former TikTok CEO and chief strategy officer at Disney, will serve as a strategic advisor; Mayer also led the launch of Disney Plus in November.

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,” the filing said.

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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 have hailed the vehicles as a better way to take companies public, others have said SPACs are too lightly regulated.

More than $53 billion has been raised across 138 SPAC debuts in 2020, trouncing the $13.6 billion raised last year, according to SPACInsider.com. The average IPO size has increased to $388 million this year from $230 million.

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