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Ring My Bell —A Newly Minted Top 5 Most Valuable Firm in Outdoor Advertising

Bigger than Karl Eller Selling to the Mays family, now Clear Channel Outdoor

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OOH …Here’s One Thing  


by Jim Johnsen,
Managing Director, Johnsen, Fretty & Company


Ring My Bell


As Pink Floyd once said, is anybody out there?  This was one of the most momentous weeks in the history of the outdoor advertising industry and but for a few folks I barely heard chatter about it.  It seems like we all saw the Volta headlines, yawned and then went back to our unanswered emails.


Folks, this is remarkable news.  Seriously.  Before you toss the last of your coffee back and answer another complaint about the missing POP, you need to put your mind in idle for a second and think about this.  It’s a new day and a new dawn for out-of-home.  It’s kind of like that time Karl Eller quietly sold his company to the Mays family, but perhaps a little bigger.

Alright Johnsen, you got my attention.  What’s the skinny?  The best I can glean, Volta Industries, the guys that strap 55″ screens onto electric vehicle charging stations, and then place these screens/chargers in front of supermarkets, malls, arenas and other venues for the purpose of selling advertising, has just been validated and valued at over $1.4B.  Yes that is right, billion.  (The article does seem to create some confusion around whether the proforma valuation is $1.4B or $2.0B…but in either case, it’s a Big Mac).  So how did this Company skyrocket to one of the 5 most valuable firms in our industry while our guitars gently wept?  Well it turns out that the world has gone mad for SPACs and has also gone mad for anything electric vehicle (EV) related.  And when you put both of these ingredients together…think Austin Powers in the hot tub.

For those of us who have better things to do then study SPACs, a SPAC (or special purpose acquisition co) is an empty company that goes public- ya you heard that right- and gets a bunch of investors to buy its shares at $10 a pop, and then takes all that money (usually more than $200MM) and agrees to keep it in a trust account until such time as it brings an attractive acquisition back to these same shareholders who get to decide whether they want to stay and play or take their money back.  SPACs usually have between 18 and 36 months to find an acquisition.  If they don’t find one, they need to return the money to the investors.

There are all kinds of side hustles going on with founder’s shares, warrants and other instruments but let’s not lose the plot.  SPAC’s are essentially smart, fast talking guys with hunting licenses and lots of ammo and little time.  When they find the right target, they lock on.  And this is essentially what happened to Volta.  If the transaction consummates (and there is no reason it shouldn’t), Volta will merge with Tortoise Acquisition Corp II (SPAC) and the surviving entity, Volta, will have just received a war chest of over $600MM and will be a public company trading under ticker VLTA.

If I was a Volta shareholder (I’m not) or one of the management team, here is what I would be doing:  Anita Ward – “Ring My Bell”

Actually, if this is a leading indicator of several New Guards to come to the industry, here is what I am doing right now. Soul Train Line Let It Whip Dazz Band

Anyone else excited yet?


Securities transacted through StillPoint Capital Member firm FINRA/SiPC


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