Amid a recent surge in shell company offerings, the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) says it’s planning to propose more robust investor protections for special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs).
The FCA said it will soon launch a consultation on proposed revisions to its listing rules and related guidance with an eye to improving safeguards for SPAC investors, which may open the U.K. market to more SPAC listings.
“The consultation will consider the structural features and enhanced disclosure, including a minimum market capitalization and a redemption option for investors,” the FCA said in a statement.
At the same time, the regulator said it will be looking to revise a requirement in its rules that’s been a deterrent to SPAC listings. Currently in the U.K., trading in a SPAC is suspended when it announces a planned acquisition.
The FCA indicated that the trading suspension requirement will likely no longer be needed once added investor protections are in place.
A government review of the U.K. listing regime published at the beginning of March recommended that the FCA consider revisions to address the rules for SPACs, among a variety of reform proposals.
“The rule regarding trading suspension is seen as a key deterrent for potential investors in U.K. SPACs,” the review said. “It exposes investors to the possibility that they will be ‘locked into’ their investment for an uncertain period.”
The FCA’s planned consultation will run for four weeks, with the regulator expecting to make new rules and/or guidance by early summer.
“Our proposals will help to ensure that SPACs operate within a framework of high regulatory standards and oversight,” it said.