Shell company Vertex Tech to buy streaming platform in landmark deal for Singapore

By Adwitiya Srivastava and Yantoultra Ngui

(Reuters) -Singapore’s Vertex Technology Acquisition Corp (VTAC) will buy live streaming platform 17LIVE Inc for up to S$925.1 million ($676 million), the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) backed by state investor Temasek said on Monday.

The deal is the first purchase of a private company by a SPAC listed in the city-state since 2021 when the Singapore Exchange allowed SPACs, or shell firms, to float shares in a bid to position itself as a hub for this type of vehicle in Asia.

VTAC was Singapore’s first SPAC to be listed, going public in early 2022 and raising about S$200 million.

The pro-forma equity value of VTAC’s proposed deal would be up to S$1.16 billion, it said.

VTAC would also raise funds from institutional or accredited investors, or a combination of both, by way of private placement in relation to the deal.

VTAC shares have risen 6.2% so far this year, while Singapore’s benchmark stock index is down around 1%.

17LIVE Chairman and co-founder Joseph Phua said the listing would allow the company to grow in Southeast Asia and globally.

17LIVE had just over half a million average monthly active users in the first half of fiscal 2023 and counts Japan and Taiwan as its key markets.

It generated revenue of $363.7 million in 2022 and has been profitable since 2020.

“We see 17LIVE as a company at its inflection point, backed by a strong management bench,” VTAC Chief Executive Jiang Hong Hui said in a statement.

VTAC will issue up to 160.6 million new shares at S$5.00 each and another 24.4 million new shares once certain financial targets are met.

VTAC said it expected the necessary approvals to complete the deal by the end of 2023 after which the company would be renamed 17LIVE Group Ltd and trade on the Singapore stock exchange.

It has appointed DBS as its sole issue manager on the proposed transaction, with the Singaporean bank and UBS acting as its joint financial advisers too. ($1 = 1.3682 Singapore dollars)

(Reporting by Adwitiya Srivastava in Bengaluru and Yantoultra Ngui in Singapore; Editing by Savio D’Souza and Stephen Coates)