Graf blank check company completes IPO

Graf Acquisition Corp IV has completed its $150 million initial public offering. It is a Woodlands-based Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC), otherwise known as a blank check company. It’s also the first Houston-area SPAC to go public since the SEC clamped down in April.¬†All Houston-area SPACS are restating their results.

Interestingly, Graf IV has completed its IPO before Graf Acquisition Corp II ($225 million) and Graf Acquisition Corp III ($300 million). All three companies filed their registration statements in February.

The first Graf Acquisition SPAC went public in October 2018. It took Velodyne Lidar public in September 2020. The San Jose-based company, which makes radar-like sensors used in autonomous vehicles, has had a rocky beginning as a public company.

Velodyne Lidar’s rocky road

The first quarterly results since going public underperformed analysts’ expectations. It also reported material weaknesses in revenue recognition in its first annual report. Finally, the chairman and co-founder of Velodyne Lidar, David Hall, had a spectacular falling out with Jim Graf.¬† The company accused Hall and his wife (who worked at the company) of behaving inappropriately regarding the Board and company processes. In turn, Hall accused the Board of prioritizing its own self-interests over that of the shareholders.

Mr Hall is no longer on the Board, though he remains the largest shareholder. However, his wife, who was fired as an employee in February, remains on the Board as does his wife’s brother. That should make for some interesting dynamics at future board meetings!

When the deal closed, the share price popped to $24.75. It’s now trading around $10.

You can see the complete list of Houston-area public companies here.


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