Fishers raw materials firm says ‘blank check’ company seeking to raise $100M

A Fishers-based firm that mines raw materials to make construction metals is the latest central Indiana firm to jump on the “blank check” company bandwagon—forming a shell company that uses public offering proceeds to scoop up an acquisition target.

American Resources Corp. announced Friday that a related company, American Acquisition Opportunity Inc., had filed a registration statement with federal regulators for a proposed public offering to raise $100 million.

American Acquisition Opportunity is a SPAC—or special interest acquisition company. SPACs—also known as blank check companies—are shell companies with no operations when they go public. They use proceeds from an initial public offering, often along with additional cash raised privately, to buy a business. The move essentially acts as a shortcut to taking the acquired company public.

ARC has an indirect investment in AAO, and its management team will manage AAO, according to the firm.

AAO intends to search for a target in the land holdings and resources industry. Its ultimate goal is to “look beyond the target’s current business model and pursue a growth industry of clean energies, social impact and new industries such as recycling and redevelopment.”

SPACs have become an increasingly popular vehicle for investors and private companies in recent years, spooked by the ups and downs of the traditional initial public offering market.

According to SPACInsider.com, there were 248 SPAC transactions in 2020 with proceeds of $83 billion. There were already at least 118 such transactions by the end of last week, with proceeds of $35.3 billion.

Other local companies that have recently filed a SPAC prospectus are Simon Property Group Inc., Emmis Communications Corp. and Novus Capital Group.

Formed in 2015, ARC specializes in buying distressed coal assets from struggling or bankrupt coal operators. Once it takes over, it trims the workforce, strips away expensive legacy costs, and streamlines operations.

The company specializes in a niche sector of the industry. While most coal companies mine coal chiefly to fuel power plants, American Resources mines mostly metallurgical coal, a more profitable type, which is melted down into coke and combined with iron ore to make steel.

ARC went public in 2017. Since Feb. 1, its shares have surged from $2.51 to a $6 close on Friday. It’s not immediately clear whether the big move was related the filing of the IPO registration statement on Thursday.

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