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$300 Million to Burn, With a Catch

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Published: February 12, 2008

Here’s an odd predicament: You have to spend $300 million in the next 14 days or it all goes poof.

That’s what’s facing Michael S. Gross, a co-founder of the big private equity firm Apollo Management and a director of Saks. And a similar conundrum could be in store for a string of other big-name gamblers on Wall Street: Ronald O. Perelman, Bruce Wasserstein and Nelson Peltz, among them.

Mr. Gross, a 46-year-old entrepreneur with a penchant for shoot-for-the-moon risk, is one of dozens of deal makers who have recently piled into an obscure corner of Wall Street — one of the few places amid the market decline where money is still gushing in. If you haven’t heard about this little netherworld, you will: it is called — and please don’t let your eyes glaze over this alphabet soup of an acronym — SPACs, short for Special Purpose Acquisition Companies. In the 1990’s, a variation on the same idea was called a “blank check company.”

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