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BuzzFeed Announces Plans to Go Public Via SPAC, Targets $1.5 Billion Valuation

Lucy Nicholson | Reuters
  • BuzzFeed, a 15-year-old digital media company, announced Thursday it plans to go public via a merger with a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company. 
  • The company, merging with 890 Fifth Avenue Partners, is targeting a $1.5 billion valuation.
  • BuzzFeed also plans to acquire Complex Networks, a digital publisher that specializes in streetwear, music and culture.

BuzzFeed, a 15-year-old digital media company, announced Thursday it plans to go public via a merger with a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company. 

The company, merging with 890 Fifth Avenue Partners, is targeting a $1.5 billion valuation. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

BuzzFeed also plans to acquire Complex Networks, a digital publisher that specializes in streetwear, music and culture, for $300 million. The deal is made up of $200 million in cash and $100 million of equity in BuzzFeed, the company said. It added it will "immediately accelerate BuzzFeed's revenue growth."

The SPAC could help strengthen the company's position to acquire other digital media companies, BuzzFeed co-founder and chief Jonah Peretti told CNBC's "TechCheck." Peretti said there's a "lot of other attractive opportunities out there."

"I've been talking to founders of companies, management teams of companies, I think there's a lot of excitement to join up with us," Peretti said. BuzzFeed in November acquired news site HuffPost from Verizon Media for an undisclosed amount.

BuzzFeed generated $321 million in annual revenue and $31 million in adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in 2020, in large part due to its e-commerce business. The company is estimating $654 million in revenue in 2022 and $117 million in adjusted EBITDA, according to an investor presentation.

BuzzFeed will trade under the ticker symbol "BZFD" on the Nasdaq. The company said its management team will stay in place after the deal, with Peretti remaining CEO and Felicia DellaFortuna as its CFO.

"With today's announcement, we're taking the next step in BuzzFeed's evolution, bringing capital and additional experience to our business," Peretti said in a statement earlier Thursday. The company has also bulked up its business in other areas, leaning into e-commerce, selling things like branded cookware, and affiliate commerce.

SPAC deals have become an increasingly popular route to go public over this past year. Several digital publishers, including Bustle Digital Group, Vox Media and Vice Media, had held talks about a market debut via a SPAC, CNBC previously reported.

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