Japan should consider whether to allow listings through SPACs, govt panel says

TOKYO, March 17 (Reuters) - Japan should consider whether to allow firms to list through a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) on exchanges, a government panel tasked with drafting the country’s growth strategy proposed on Wednesday.

A SPAC is a “blank cheque” company that raises money through an initial public offering (IPO) with the intention of merging with another firm, allowing that business to list more quickly.

While most SPACs so far have listed in the United States, the idea of listing through a shell company has gained increasing traction in Asia toward the end of last year following rapid growth in the deals elsewhere.

The move in Japan by the Growth Strategy Council, a government panel, including private-sector members, suggests the idea could make headway in the world’s third-largest economy.

“Japan has insufficient means of providing capital to unlisted startups,” the panel said in a statement, suggesting the country should consider listings through a SPAC.

There have been $2.67 billion worth of SPAC deals in Asia so far in 2021, already more than $2.46 billion for last year, but none of those have been in Japan, Dealogic data showed.

Elsewhere, Hong Kong’s government said earlier this month that it was exploring whether to allow SPACs to list in the Asian financial hub, while Britain is also seeking to modernise its listing rules.

Reporting by Daniel Leussink and Yoshifumi Takemoto in Tokyo; Additional reporting by Scott Murdoch in Hong Kong