AQR on Acquisition Spree

AQR Capital, a behemoth with $70.7 billion in assets as of the end of 2012, has bought significant interests in acquisition companies around the world.

These are blank-check companies that have raised money to acquire businesses, typically in a certain industry or region. AQR Diversified Arbitrage Fund bought the stock of score or so acquisition companies.

Among the roughly 20 companies are China VantagePoint Acquisition Co., Collabrium Japan Acquisition Corp., Azteca Acquisition Corp.,  CIS Acquisition Ltd. from an issuer in Moscow and Nautilus Marine Acquisition Corp. from an issuer in Greece.

Some of them have already acquired and merged with a business. Thus Selway Capital Acquisition last month announced that it will combine with Healthcare Corporation of America.

But other acquisition companies AQR owes have not yet done a deal. Usually if a blank-check company does not acquire a business within a specified time, it has to return the capital to its shareholders. Part of AQR’s arbitrage strategy may be to get the money from some of the companies. It owns anywhere from 5% to 20% of each company.

AQR was founded in 1998 by a group from Goldman Sachs, led by Cliff Asness. It runs both hedge funds and mutual funds.

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