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Friday, July 10, 2020

Jim Ross Resurfaces to Guide an Acquirer

by: Alex Rogers

It didn't take long for Jim Ross to get back in the saddle. Watch for him to help a venture make a big fintech purchase in asset management, fintech, or wealth management.

James E. Ross
Fusion Acquisition Corp.
Ross, who retired from his role of executive vice president and chairman of SSgA's global SPDR business in March, recently joined a new special purpose acquisition company (SPAC, a type of "blank check company") as chairman. John James, the founder of BetaSmartz (an Australian fintech firm), is the SPAC's CEO.

The company, Fusion Acquisition Corp, IPOed on the NYSE late last month, as planned, under the ticker FUSE.U. (See their S-1) The company priced its IPO at $305 million, offering 30.5 million shares for $10.00 per unit, and the underwriters (sole booker-runner Cantor Fitzgerald and lead manager Odeon Capital Group) exercised their option to buy another 4.5 million shares at the same price. So the FUSE.U team raised a total of $350 million (before paying the underwriters, of course) from the IPO.

Fusion's purpose as a company is to purchase other companies, specifically those valued between $750 million and $3 billion. Ross told MFWire, "We broadly are looking at the asset wealth fintech space. That clearly would include technology around the retirement space."

"Usually we're looking for a good management team that can use our support. What we are not looking for is a ‘turnaround’ where we go in and replace the management,” he added.

For Ross and Fusion, this SPAC is not the end of the journey. Ross clarified that SPACs, unlike private equity firms, generally make one deal instead of "[investing] in 50 companies."

Ross told MFWire, "I think from Fusion's perspective, we want to bring a really good transaction to the marketplace. And have the ability to go back to the investor base and do 'Fusion 2' ... You do that by executing flawlessly."

"We're a first-time SPAC team," said Ross. "We need to do this and do it well in order to go back to the market and raise more funds and find another company ... We're not focused on 'SPAC 2' until we're done with 'SPAC 1.'"

Ross, an alumnus of Bentley University, spent 20 years at State Street Global Advisors and their global SDPR business. Before that, he spent 8 years in State Street’s fund administration and custody and accounting business, as well as 4 years at Ernst & Young. 

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