Bankers make it big thanks to SPACs

, Financial news

Banks clocked their best-ever quarter, hauling more than $30bn in fees as they cash in on Wall Street’s seemingly unstoppable craze for blank-cheque companies.

Fees at the world's biggest investment banks soared by more than 56% to $30.6bn in the first three months of 2021, according to preliminary data from Dealogic. The fee pool exceeds the previous record of $26.7bn set in the fourth quarter of 2020 as deals have surged in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Investment banks’ equity capital markets units have been a key driver of revenues, with the unprecedented bonanza in blank-cheque companies helping push fees up by nearly 340% compared to the same period in 2020 to $13.1bn. That’s more than double the fees earned in any first quarter over the past 20 years.

There have been 297 Spac initial public offerings so far in 2021, worth $94.4bn, which has already exceeded the record annual total of $83.4bn last year. Traditional IPOs raised $188.5bn during the first quarter.

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