Craig McCaw is a storied name in U.S. business, known as the mobile phone pioneer who three decades ago built Redmond-based McCaw Cellular Communications into an industry leader.
Blank-check companies are a shadowy corner of the stock market, where often money has been raised for unknown purposes by people with uncertain backgrounds.
But now those two worlds are meeting in the form of Holicity, a company led by Craig McCaw, 70, that on Friday filed regulatory documents to raise about $250 million in an initial public offering although it has no existing business. Kirkland-based Holicity says it wants to do a deal in the “technology, media and telecommunications” industries but has “not selected any specific business combination target.”
Holicity says it will be run by McCaw and chief investment officer Randy Russell, who hails from Deutsche Bank, which along with BofA Securities is leading the IPO for Holicity.
After selling full control of McCaw Cellular to AT&T for what was then the jaw-dropping sum of $11.5 billion in 1994, Craig McCaw went on to a string of telecom businesses, some more successful than others: Nextel Communications and Clearwire are mentioned in his Holicity IPO resume, but Teledesic is not.
In recent years McCaw has led Pendrell, which describes itself as an “operating and financial investment platform,” as well as Eagle River, a private equity firm.
Blank-check companies by definition cannot have an acquisition target in mind when they set out to raise money. They have historically been considered dodgy investment vehicles, but in recent years some well-respected names in finance have used them to raise capital that can be plowed into companies that may have trouble raising it on their own.
The Wall Street Journal noted this week that the strategy has surged this year as traditional IPOs became more difficult due to market volatility. “Buzzy startups such as electric-truck maker Nikola and sports-betting operator DraftKings used blank-check deals to go public this year,” it reported.