Ex-Apple execs get a 'blank check'

Acquicor has given itself 18 months to find a company to buy, or it will return to shareholders the $140 million it raised.

In a rather unusual stock sale, three former Apple executives have received more than $140 million to set up a new technology venture.

Acquicor Technology, a company launched by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, former Apple CEO Gil Amelio and former Apple CTO Ellen Hancock, raised more than $140 million this week. But, in a twist, they will only get to use the proceeds of the stock offering if they can find a company to buy.

In the prospectus for Acquicor, the founders describe the effort as a "blank check company" that was formed to snap up a company somewhere in the tech arena. The company said it is generally looking for opportunities created by the convergence of various Internet Protocol-based technologies.

"We believe IP-based convergence will become a major catalyst for growth opportunities in the technology, multimedia and networking sectors and will lead to the development of new, agile and integrated applications, products and services," Acquicor said in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. "As a result, many companies will need experienced leadership and growth capital in order to make their businesses responsive to these market trends."

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The money Acquicor raised will be held in a trust account with a limited amount of the interest available to the company for its operating expenses. If they don't find a company to buy, or if shareholders don't approve of Acquicor's target, the money will go back to shareholders.

The three ex-Apple execs have given themselves a deadline, too. "We will dissolve and promptly distribute only to our public stockholders the amount in our trust account plus any of our remaining net assets if we do not effect a business combination within 18 months after the consummation of this offering."

All three executives have been involved in other tech ventures after leaving Apple. Wozniak has been involved in wireless technology venture Wheels of Zeus. Hancock was CEO of Web hoster Exodus Communications, until being replaced in September 2001. Amelio has been a venture capitalist, most recently with Sienna Ventures.

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