According to sources familiar with the matter at hand, William Ackman, has approached Airbnb Inc about going public through a reverse merger with his blank-check company.
The negotiations though are currently not moving ahead with Airbnb being more focused with its going public through an IPO later this year, in what could be 2020’s high-profile stock market debut, said sources.
Representatives for Ackman and Airbnb declined to comment.
Last month Airbnb had filed confidentially for an IPO with U.S. regulators.
Ackman’s approach of Airbnb Inc underscores the scale and ambition of the types of deals the billionaire investor is pursuing with Pershing Square Tontine Holdings Ltd, his new investment vehicle.
Essentially, a blank-check company, is a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), or a shell company, that raises money through an IPO to buy an operating company, typically within a span of two years.
If Ackman’s black-check company manages to snag Airbnb at the company’s roughly $18 billion valuation, it would mark 2020’s biggest SPAC deal.
Incidentally, in recent months, merging with a SPAC has become a popular alternative to an IPO with the latest case in point being betting platform DraftKings Inc and electric vehicle maker Nikola Corp, who have all gone public this year through reverse mergers with SPACs.
This option is sweeter since it allows a faster entry to the public market. Further, in a SPAC merger, the company going public can also share detailed earnings forecasts with investors publicly, which is not done in an IPO.
Ackman and his team “are in discussions with a number of potential companies that are owned and/or controlled by private equity firms, families, start-up company founders, as well as other private companies,” said a manager in a letter to investors.