New Listing Rules for SPACs and Dual Class?

Wednesday, 14 April 2021 | 17:00 – 19:30 CEST

Thursday, 15 April 2021 | 14:00 – 16:30 CEST

Organised by

Marco Becht (Université libre de Bruxelles and ECGI)

Anete Pajuste (Stockholm School of Economics (Riga) and ECGI)

About this event

Primary markets in the United States are witnessing a boom that is driven by Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs) that are also starting to reach Europe. How are SPACs different from traditional initial public offerings? Are SPACs a useful innovation or the latest financial tool for selling poorly performing securities to public market investors? Do disclosure or listing rules need to be reformed to take into account of the SPAC phenomenon?

At the same time dual class share IPOs continue to increase in popularity, while also remaining controversial. The U.S. markets continue to be a preferred venue for dual class IPOs, also for foreign issuers. There are also SPACS that go public with a dual class structure.

Responding to these developments, the United Kingdom is currently revising its listing rules to make the London markets more competitive globally. The EU has published a capital market union action plan that aims to make its primary markets more attractive, especially for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Several EU countries have also started to offer alternative control enhancing mechanisms (CEMs) like non-voting shares or tenure voting (“loyalty shares”).

This workshop provided a briefing on SPACs, dual class shares and other CEMs in a comparative perspective. In the United States, for example, there is an active debate whether dual class issuers might have to introduce a sunset clause. In the EU, listing rules are generally more permissive and companies can freely choose the place of listing within the single market, but some countries allow only minor deviations from one share-one vote. Hence the debate about listing rules is closely tied to the freedom of establishment and the ability of SMEs to adopt the company law of their choice. In the United Kingdom, the listing rules exclude CEMs and force families to demonstrate that their companies are run independently once they are traded on the stock exchange.

 

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