Auto parts maker Holley to merge with blank-check firm in $1.55 bln deal

March 12 (Reuters) - Private equity firm Sentinel Capital Partners-owned Holley is merging with a blank-check company in a deal that values the auto parts maker at $1.55 billion, the companies said on Friday.

The deal with Empower Ltd includes a private investment of $240 million from investors led by Wells Capital Management Inc, an investment adviser tied to Wells Fargo , and investment manager Wasatch Global Investors.

PE firm MidOcean Partners, which formed the blank-check, has also agreed to invest $50 million in the deal through its MidOcean Fund V.

Bowling Green, Kentucky-based Holley makes auto parts including engine valve covers, convertible tops and doors.

In 2018, Holley was bought by Sentinel and merged with Driven Performance Brands, a portfolio company that designs automotive performance products.

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021. Following that, Holley will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “HLLY”.

The combined company will have a net debt of around $485 million, the companies said.

Blank-check companies, or special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), are shell firms which list on exchanges to raise capital to combine with a private company, taking it public. (Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)