HONG KONG – A SPAC backed by China Merchants Bank applied to list in Hong Kong late on Monday, the first company to do so since new rules allowing such listings took effect at the start of this year.

Interest in SPACs – special purpose acquisition companies that raise cash to buy private firms and take them public without a traditional initial public offering (IPO) – is starting to shift to Asia, with two SPACs set to list in Singapore later this month.

Monday’s filing was by Aquila Acquisition Corporation, whose ultimate parent is China Merchants Bank.

The filing said Aquila is target acquiring “a technology-enabled company in ‘new economy’ sectors (such as green energy, life sciences and advanced technology and manufacturing) in Asia, with a focus on China.”

Hong Kong changed its rules to allow SPACs late last year, and the rules took effect on Jan 1. – Reuters