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Vertex plans Singapore’s first SPAC merger with Taiwan firm

The Merlion statue and the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore, on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023.  Photographer: Lionel Ng/Bloomberg
The Merlion statue and the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore, on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023. Photographer: Lionel Ng/Bloomberg (Bloomberg)

By Ishika Mookerjee and Elffie Chew

(Bloomberg) — Singapore-listed Vertex Technology Acquisition Corp. has proposed a merger with Taiwanese live streaming platform 17Live Inc., on track to become the city state’s first blank-check firm to acquire a target.

Vertex will take over 17Live for S$925.1 million ($676 million), the so-called special purpose acquisition company said in a statement Monday. Bloomberg News earlier reported on the deal, citing people familiar with the matter.

The proposed deal marks a key development for the industry in Singapore, which is facing fierce competition from Hong Kong to become an Asian hub for SPACs. While it lagged behind the city state in setting up rules and listing its first blank-check company, Hong Kong recently beat Singapore by announcing its first SPAC merger with a target firm, a process known as de-SPAC.

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Vertex Tech, which is backed by Vertex Venture Holdings Ltd., raised about S$200 million in its initial public offering in January 2022 in Singapore’s first SPAC since the local stock exchange allowed blank-check companies to list in 2021. Vertex Venture is a subsidiary of Singapore’s state investment firm Temasek Holdings Pte.

17Live operates a live streaming platform that counts Japan and Taiwan as key markets, and had a market share by revenue of about 27% in Taiwan in 2022, Vertex Tech said in the statement, citing data from Frost & Sullivan. In its 2022 fiscal year, it generated revenue of $363.7 million and had contracts with about 87,000 live streamers as of June 30.

“The listing in Singapore gives us a launchpad into Southeast Asia,” said Alex Lien, 17Live’s group chief executive, at a press briefing Monday. The company has operations in Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia, he said.

After an investing frenzy in the early days of the pandemic, demand for SPACs has slumped as regulatory and quality concerns emerge. An index tracking US listings of blank-check firms is down 43% since a peak in February 2021.

Vertex Tech will hold an extraordinary general meeting to approve the transaction in the coming weeks and the completion of the deal is expected in December, Jiang Honghui, its chief executive, said at the same briefing. 17Live is a portfolio company of Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia & India.

Vertex Tech shares were in a trading halt Monday. The stock has risen about 6.2% so far this year.

—With assistance from Fion Li.

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.