A group of former ViacomCBS Inc. executives have announced plans to launch a special purpose acquisition company focusing on media, entertainment and sports businesses.
 
Led by former CBS Chief Executive Joe Ianniello and former CBS Interactive Chief Marc DeBevoise, the blank check company, named Argus Capital Corp., aims to raise $300 million to take a private company public.  
“We seek to partner with late-stage growth companies as well as mature companies with the potential to accelerate growth through organic and transaction-driven strategies,” said Ianniello and DeBevoise in a prospectus filed July 22 with the Securities and Exchange Commission. “We will utilize our deep understanding of technology-driven media to identify a high-quality, long-term business coupled with a highly effective management team and strong governance structure.”
Among a growing number of SPACs, Argus Capital aims to use $34.5 million shares of stock, valued at $10 a share. Under terms delineated in their filing, Argus must make an acquisition within 18 months or return the money its organization raises to investors.
 
SPACs have become tremendously popular in the last year, with almost 48 making an IPO since July 2020 for a total of $11.5 billion in money raised per a database collected by Techcrunch media columnist Eric Peckham. These investment vehicles appeal to companies in need of cash that may be concerned about the scrutiny they would receive with a traditional initial public offering. They additionally grant shareholders a greater degree of control with the ability to take back investments if they don’t like a proposed deal. Blank-check companies have been around for a long time, but gained new legitimacy when Virgin Galactic was able to raise $480 million through a SPAC in 2019.
 
Made up of former high-ranking CBS employees, including former CBS communications chief Dana McClintock, former CBS corporate communications executive Kelli Raftery, former CBS Chief Administrative Officer Stephen D. Mirante, and former CBS News Chief Financial Officer Charles Pavlounis, the Argus team has cultivated a substantial network of relationships in L.A. through their shared ViacomCBS history, which connects them to Paramount Pictures, CBS Entertainment Group, Domestic Media Networks and more.
 
“Anybody who has some sort of an edge will probably have a leg up,” explains Kristi Marvin, founder and CEO of SPAC Insider. “The team members are probably the most critical, because you want someone with access to deal flow, the ability to open doors and talk to companies that might be an attractive acquisition. So for sure, someone who is a former CBS executive, and the Viacom guys are there too, if they make a call, other people are probably going to pick up and answer.”
 
 “We also intend to leverage our management team’s considerable industry relationships to seek out potentially mutually beneficial corporate carve-outs from existing conglomerate companies,” the prospectus said.
Other members of the group include Maria Corsaro Charon, former vice president, senior counsel, executive compensation and employee benefits at ViacomCBS; Gautam Ranji, chief operating officer of Blavity Inc., who previously served as executive vice president, strategic planning and business development for ViacomCBS; and investment banker Alan Mnuchin, a former executive at Godman Sachs and Bear Stearns and brother of former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

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