Billionaire real estate investor and yacht enthusiast Andrew Farkas is sailing into the SPAC race.
Farkas, the founder of merchant bank Island Capital, aims to raise $250 million for a proptech-focused blank-check firm. ICG Hypersonic Acquisition Corp. will be run by Farkas and executives from Island Capital, according to a regulatory filing.
The SPAC’s board includes some of the biggest names in real estate and tech, including Jeff Blau, CEO of Related Companies; William P. Lauder, executive chairman of the Estée Lauder Companies; Peter Levine, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz; Andrea Olshan, CEO of Seritage Growth Properties; and Henry Sliverman, the managing member of Athos Capital Partners and 54 Madison Partners, which develop hotels and mixed-use properties.
Last year, blank-check firms roared back to life after falling out of favor in the wake of the financial crisis. Some 248 SPACs went public, raising $83.3 billion.
Investors have already surpassed those records this year, according to SPACInsider, with 270 SPACs going public and raising $87.8 billion.
Real estate players in particular are jumping at the chance to capitalize on the industry’s increased demand for technology and digital solutions.
“Going forward, we expect proptech growth curves to be very steep and robust, delivering massive efficiency and productivity gains to the real estate space,” ICG Hypersonic said in the filing.
That’s become a common refrain over the past few months, with more than 40 real estate-focused SPACs getting into the game. Some well-known players include Tishman Speyer, RXR Realty, Cushman & Wakefield and CBRE.
So far, just a handful of proptech startups have struck SPAC deals. They include home-services startup Porch.com, the iBuyer Opendoor and smart-glass maker View. Companies such as Matterport (3D video), Latch (smart lock maker) and Doma (title insurance) are set to go public with SPACs this year.
Farkas is founder of Island Capital Group, which is headquartered in Manhattan but has been active lately in South Florida. In January, an affiliated company paid $64 million for a 282-unit apartment complex in Margate.
Prior to starting Island Capital, Farkas built Insignia Financial Group, one of the largest real estate brokerages in the country. His family also built Alexander’s department store.