NEW YORK — CarLotz Inc., a U.S. consignment store for used vehicles, is nearing a deal to go public through a merger with blank-check acquisition company Acamar Partners Acquisition Corp. at a valuation of close to $830 million, including debt, people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.
The deal would make CarLotz the third major U.S. online car seller to go public this year, following in the trails of Vroom Inc. and Shift Technologies Inc., as online vehicle sales boom during the coronavirus pandemic powered by consumers seeking to practice social distancing.
An agreement could be announced as soon as Thursday, the sources said, requesting anonymity because the matter is confidential. CarLotz and Acamar declined to comment.
Richmond, Va.-based CarLotz, which was founded in 2011, operates a consignment platform that splits profits from vehicle sales with the car owners. This business model differs from those of Vroom and Shift, which buy and then sell used cars on their own. CarLotz’s financial backers include TRP Capital Partners.
Acamar Partners is a Nasdaq-listed special-purpose acquisition company, or a SPAC, led by private equity investors Juan Carlos Torres Carretero and Luis Ignacio Solorzano Aizpuru. SPACs are shell companies that use initial public offering proceeds to acquire a private company, which then becomes public as a result.
Merging with a SPAC has become a popular alternative to an IPO, as it involves less regulatory scrutiny and more certainty over the market valuation and funds raised.
Online sales account for only around 1 percent of the roughly $840 billion Americans spend annually on used cars. But after numerous U.S. states went into COVID-19 lockdowns in March, the advantages of socially distant purchases have gained traction with consumers.
Vroom sold shares in its IPO at $22 apiece in June and the company’s stock now trades at around $47. Shift last week completed a SPAC merger with Insurance Acquisition Corp. and its stock is trading at around $11, slightly above Insurance’s $10 IPO price.
Shares of larger rival Carvana Co. have more than doubled this year, closing Wednesday down 3.8 percent at $192.23 for a market capitalization of about $32.8 billion.