USHG Acquisition Corp. (HUGS), a blank-check company with Shake Shack creator Danny Meyer at the helm, started trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday in a deal valued at $250 million.
Perhaps surprisingly — given Meyer's pedigree as the CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group that operates more than 20 restaurants and bars — the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) is looking beyond the restaurant industry for possible mergers.
"It would be intuitive for people to say, 'Oh, obviously Danny Meyer and his group are going to be focusing on bringing public a restaurant company,'" Meyer told Cheddar. "It's likely that that's not going to be the case."
Instead, the SPAC is seeking out companies with what Meyer called a "stakeholder approach" to doing business.
"We believe that the most compelling differentiator for long-term business success is when a company believes that the first input has to be the people working there, and the second input has to be the people who do business with them, the customers, and then the community in which they do business," he said.
Outside of this criteria, the SPAC is casting a wide net, with technology, e-commerce, food and beverage, and health and wellness companies all on the table.
A component of USHG's culture-driven acquisition strategy is a charitable partnership with Share Our Strength, a national nonprofit seeking to end childhood hunger, of which Meyer sits on the board.
As part of the public offering, Meyer said USHG will "gift a meaningful number of shares" to the nonprofit that will provide a long-term funding source for its programming.
"The resources that are generated from this are so important because at the end of the day charity is so important, but it's not enough. We've got to find ways to create new wealth," said Share Our Strength CEO Billy Shore.
Shore added that he would like to see more companies go public with a charitable partner.
"It can't be just the nonprofit sector. It can't be just the government sector. It's got to be the business sector as well. When all three come together, we can actually solve this problem."
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