SPAC Investing

A Deeper Look at Blank Check Companies
Please note that this event will be through Zoom. Login information will be provided in the reminder email closer to the event
Hosted by: Education Advisory Group

Draft Kings, Virgin Galactic and Nikola are some of this year’s hottest stocks. They all have come to market through mergers with Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs). Sometimes referred to as “blank-check companies”, SPACs have become an increasingly popular route for companies to achieve public listings. In the first nine months of this year, blank-check companies raised over $40B, representing more capital than in the entire decade prior. The frenzy of activity around SPACs has left investors with many questions. Our panel, including SPAC sponsors and investors, will lift the curtain and provide an overview of SPACs, discuss SPAC investment and portfolio management considerations, address the rapid rise in popularity, and debate their future role in capital markets. The panel will:

  • Provide a general overview of SPACs – Structure, Purpose, etc.
  • Describe the risk/return profile of SPACs
  • Discuss the various market participants involved in SPACs
  • Discuss investment strategies and portfolio allocation utilizing SPACs
  • Describe the factors that have contributed to the rise of SPACs in 2020
  • Debate the future role of SPACs in our capital markets

Jason Draho - Head of Asset Allocation, UBS
James Graf - Independent Director Velodyne Lidar, Sponsor Graf Industrial Corp. 
Nicholas Petruska - Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp. IV

Moderator: Robert Hoffman, CFA - Managing Partner, Larix Capital Partners


Members - FREE  
Nonmembers - FREE

CFA Institute Qualified Activity: Eligible for 1 credit hour

Registration: Online  
Zoom login information will be provided in the reminder email closer to the event. Registration closes at 5:00 PM on December 14, 2020.

4:00 pm - 5:00 pm CST: Program 
Please log in a few minutes early to test your video and internet connections.

*Distribution of presentation slides is at the discretion of the speaker and may not be available for this event


Jason Draho is a member of the Chief Investment Office at UBS and is responsible for tactical and strategic asset allocation in the US. He works closely with the CIO team globally to generate tactical trade ideas across the full spectrum of investment opportunities. He also leads the development of portfolio models in the US, as well as providing general portfolio solutions advice. He speaks frequently with financial advisors, clients, and the media, presenting UBS views and specific investment recommendations. Prior to joining UBS, Draho spent nine years in Research at Morgan Stanley, eventually becoming the firm’s Global Cross-Asset Strategist. He focused on global asset allocation for institutional clients, providing investment recommendations on equities, fixed income, currencies, and commodities. Draho holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Manitoba and a PhD in economics from Yale University. 

James Graf has been a sponsor, manager and/or director of five SPACs over the last ten years, including four Eagle-branded SPACs and his most recent, Graf Industrial Corp., which recently completed its business combination with Velodyne Lidar, the world's leading lidar technology company. Velodyne now trades as VLDR on Nasdaq. Other successful business combinations include Global Eagle (entertainment content and connectivity for airlines), Videocon d2h (Indian satellite TV), Williams Scotsman (modular space and storage), Target Hospitality (remote accommodations).  Prior to SPACs, Graf was an investment banker for almost two decades, including Morgan Stanley, Smith Barney, Deutsche Bank and Merrill Lynch, an entrepreneur as founder or manager of several emerging tech companies, including Praedea Solutions and ARTISTdirect, and had a senior finance role at a major media company, MGM Studios. Graf was a 1987 graduate of the University of Chicago and lives in The Woodlands, TX

Nicholas Petruska
is the executive vice president and chief financial officer of Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp. IV, a NASDAQ-listed special purpose acquisition company (or SPAC). HCAC IV is a next-generation acquisition vehicle looking to acquire, and introduce to the public markets, a compelling best-in-class industrial or industrial technology company with an enterprise value of greater than $1 billion. HCAC IV completed its initial public offering in March 2019 and in August 2020 announced its business combination with Canoo, a mobility technology company with a mission to revolutionize the electric vehicle and future mobility market, at an implied $2.4 billion pro forma equity value. Petruska also serves as Special Advisor to NewHold Investment Corp. (NASDAQ: NHIC). Prior to HCAC IV, Nicholas served as the executive vice president and chief financial officer of Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp. III, our third investment vehicle, which merged with NRC Group (NYSE: NRCG) in October 2018 and subsequently merged with US Ecology (NYSE: ECOL) in November 2019 at a substantial premium to the then current stock price; Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp. II, our second investment vehicle, which merged with Daseke, Inc. (NASDAQ: DSKE) in February 2017; and in a similar role for our first investment vehicle which merged with Blue Bird Corporation (NASDAQ: BLBD) in February 2015. Petruska supports Hennessy Capital in the areas of transaction origination and the initial assessment of potential acquisition targets and leads our due diligence efforts, transaction execution, investor relations and the execution and structuring of various capital markets initiatives. Prior to Hennessy Capital, Petruska served as an investment professional at CHS Capital, a Chicago-based middle market private equity investment firm, where he evaluated leveraged buyouts and structured equity investments across multiple sectors and monitored certain portfolio companies of CHS, and prior to that, as an investment banking analyst for Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) in the mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance groups with a focus on diversified industrials and consumer retail. Petruska holds a B.S. degree, summa cum laude, from Miami University with majors in finance and decision sciences.



Robert Hoffman, CFA, is co-founder and managing partner for Larix Capital Partners – a group of family offices, accomplished investors and business builders focused on direct private investment opportunities.  Prior to Larix, he served as chief investment officer and principal & portfolio manager respectively at two single-family offices in Chicago where he was responsible for investments, portfolio construction and risk management across multi-asset class portfolios. Earlier in his career, Hoffman worked in finance roles at hedge-fund D.E. Shaw & Co., Intel and IBM. He currently serves on the Advisory Board to the University of Chicago Shultz Innovation Fund, is as an independent director on the Board of The Agnew Company, is a member of the Education Advisory Group for CFA Society Chicago, is a mentor and judge for Kellogg’s New Venture Discovery Program, and guest lectures at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management and the University of Illinois Gies College of Business. Hoffman earned his MBA (honors) from the University of Chicago - Booth School of Business with concentrations in entrepreneurship, economics, and statistics. He studied internationally at the London School of Economics and holds a BS (high honors) from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business with concentrations in accounting and finance. He earned the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and is an active member of both the CFA Institute and CFA Society Chicago. 

*Special Notes Regarding Fees: 
This event is complimentary for both members and nonmembers. Registration online is required and closes at 5:00 PM on December 14, 2020.

CFA Institute CE Qualified Activity:
This program qualifies for credit under the guidelines for the 
CFA Institute Professional Development Program.

12/15/2020 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Registration not available.

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