SPAC or SCAM – The Inside Scoop

With Subject Matter Experts

Bala Padmakumar, Partner, Advantary

Stephen Kuhn, Chairman, AFN

While SPACS have been around for a couple of decades, it is only in the last couple of years that their popularity has surged as an alternative to late-stage private financing for companies that may not be ready for a traditional IPO process.

But along with the surge in popularity has come increased (negative) headlines in the financial and popular press and greater scrutiny from the SEC.

This roundtable will discuss SPAC in its original context and unravel facts from FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt).

We will walk through the basic SPAC structure, how it is different from an IPO and how investors deploy capital across all points in the asset class. We will then discuss the kind of companies that would be an acquisition target for SPAC and how such a transaction will ideally unfold.

Finally, we will discuss the current market environment and hazard a guess as to what could happen in the next 12-24 months.

CEO Roundtable: SPAC or SPAM

Bala Padmakumar

A materials technologist and serial entrepreneur, Bala Padmakumar has been the CEO of Amperics Inc, a high-performance energy storage play that originated at UCLA, since 2011. In that time, Amperics has transitioned from proof-of-concept to full characterized products that are scaling into volume production and revenue. Concurrently, from 2016 to 2019 Bala was an advisor to the Chairman of the ASTI Group based in Singapore focused on transitioning a legacy backend semiconductor testing group into new businesses in energy and transport. He was also an advisor to the Board of a data center company where he assisted with new technologies, business models in edge computing and capital raising. Apart from being in founding and senior management roles over the course of his career, Bala was also a venture partner at XSeed Capital. He has a degree in Chemical Engineering from Stanford.

Bala enjoys working with technical teams to develop products from concept through customer readiness and to raise capital from a variety of sources to scale organizations to success. Over the years he has become skillful in developing and closing strategic relationships which are agnostic to the underlying technology or business. He has extensive experience in both US and international markets.

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Stephen Kuhn

Stephen Kuhn is is an experienced business executive with 35+ years of experience in US, Europe, and Asia helping public, private, nonprofit, and start-up companies grow and achieve their objectives through board leadership and executive management, with emphasis on M&A, corporate finance, business development, strategic relationships, and technology. He has an extensive international network of contacts and relationships in the technology, financial services, conservation, and wine sectors. He is a strategic thinker with excellent presence, public speaking, and presentation skills. He has been founder or co-founder of several companies, and as an engineer in his early career created many successful software products.

Stephen currently serves as a Senior Advisor to several companies, including KOFA Public Affairs, a national public affairs and advocacy firm; International Solutions Network, a boutique capital markets consulting company; and as interim Executive Director of the nonprofit ONE Conservation Network.
Stephen was the founding Chairman and CEO of Airex, Inc., cloud-based independent marketplaces for financially actionable applications, information, and reports for the investment community. As the founder visionary for the company, he also held the position of Chief Strategy Officer, and personally negotiated strategic relationships with many of Airex’s global information providers, including Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters, S&P Capital IQ, FactSet, Moody’s, Morningstar, Deutsche Bank, IDC, Nasdaq, IDC, Motley Fool, and Mercer.

Stephen graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in the Classics, and studied graduate-level finance at Harvard University. He has held FINRA Series 7, 63, and 24 licenses. He is married and has one daughter. He is passionate about food and wine, is an accomplished cook, and enjoys skeet and sporting clays, woodworking, cabinetmaking, and squash. He is also a dedicated Buddhist samatha meditator in the Theravadan tradition as taught by Pa-Awk Sayadow.

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