MAFS Acquisition Corp. Cancels IPO

NEW YORK, Dec 12 (Reuters) – MAFS Acquisition Corp, a blank check company, pulled its application on Friday for an initial public offering estimated to raise up to $500 million, for the “protection of investors,” according to a regulatory filing.

MAFS Acquisition, whose management team included Ronald Perelman, the financier who controls cosmetics maker Revlon Inc (REV.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), had filed for the IPO in December 2007.

The IPO’s bookrunners were to have been led by Citi (C.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

Blank check companies are shell organizations that use the IPO proceeds to acquire another company. The acquired business goes public after shareholders approve the transaction. Typically, a blank check company, also known as a special purpose acquisition vehicle, or SPAC, has two years to complete an acquisition, or investors get their money back.

The market for IPOs in the United States is in one of its worst downturns in decades, with deal volume down about 80 percent so far this year over 2007.

It has been particularly hard for SPACs. After an active year in 2007, during which 65 SPACs went public in the United States, raising $11.6 billion, only 14 have issued stocks and warrants so far this year, raising $3.6 billion, according Thomson Reuters data.

The last SPAC to launch an IPO in the United States was Chardan 2008 China Acquisition Corp (CACAU.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), which raised $55 million in August.

Two other companies withdrew their IPOs on Friday as well.

Aegerion Pharmaceuticals, a bio-pharmaceutical company that develops small-molecule therapeutics, withdrew its $86.3 million IPO, while Epocrates, a company that provides information tools to health care professionals, pulled a $75 million deal. (Reporting by Phil Wahba, editing by Matthew Lewis)