Betsy Cohen finds seventh target for financial technology firm

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- Serial blank-check company dealmaker Betsy Cohen has found her seventh target, a technology provider for financial services companies.

FTAC Athena Acquisition Corp. has agreed to merge with Pico in an agreement which will give the combined company an equity value of $1.75 billion, according to a statement posted Wednesday by Bloomberg News.

The special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, is also raising $200 million in equity to support the Pico transaction. Investors in that private investment in public equity, or PIPE, include Golden Gate Capital and Wellington Management, the statement says.

Cohen, the chairman of SPAC, has taken financial technology firms by her series of blank-check companies public. 'We continue to hone our Basic Philosophy, and that is to find excellent investors in SPACs who we raised funding for best companies, Cohen said about the Pico deal in an interview. With six prior transactions, Cohen is one of the most active dealmakers in SPACs, which surged in popularity in 2020 and continue to offer companies an alternative to initial public offerings for being publicly traded.

Eagle Equity Partners, led by former chairman of MetroGoldwyn Mayer Inc. Harry Sloan, Jeff Sagansky and Eli Baker, announced seven deals including its most recent, Soaring Eagle Acquisition Corp. s $17.5 billion merger with Ginkgo Bioworks Inc.

Pico provides market data and analytics to financial services companies including banks, exchanges, hedge funds and other financial technology providers. Its other services include cloud infrastructure.

According to its website, the company's clients include JPMorgan Chase Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. as well as Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, which is also a competitor in some of its business functions.

The founder, chairman and CEO of Pico, Jarrod Yuster, will continue to lead the company along the existing management team. Yuster identified Hurricane Sandy, which hit New York City in 2012, as a key turning point in the company's history that drew several big clients.

'Many of the banks, institutions and exchanges did not have proper disaster recovery strategies so several of them were not running on the following two weeks, Yuster said in an interview.

He sees Asia now as the next big opportunity for growth and plans to use some of the proceeds from the SPAC corporate deal for mergers and acquisitions, with at least two deals in the works that could be announced by year end, he said.

FTAC Athena Acquisition raised $250 million in its IPO in February. The vehicle focused on finding targets in technology or financial technology, according to its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The combined company will exchange on Nasdaq once the deal closes.