Stock tied to Trump media venture soars in further frenzy

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Stock Tied To Trump Media Venture Soars In Further Frenzy Stock Tied To Trump Media Venture Soars In Further Frenzy
Former US president Donald Trump, © PA Archive/PA Images
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By Stan Choe, AP Business Writer

The company planning to bring former US president Donald Trump’s new media venture to the stock market soared further on Friday amid another frenzy of trading.

Digital World Acquisition Corporation nearly tripled in the first minute of trading before it was temporarily halted. It then gave up a chunk of those gains and was sitting on a 93.3% gain at 88.78 US dollars (£64.57) as of midday Eastern Time. It had climbed as high as 175 US dollars (£127) during the morning.

A day before, the stock more than quadrupled to 45.50 US dollars (£33.09) from 9.96 US dollars (£7.24) after it said it would merge with Trump Media & Technology Group.

The new venture, with Mr Trump as its chairman, aims to challenge Facebook and Twitter, as well as Disney’s streaming video service.

Experts are split on the company’s prospects, and the deal announcing its merger with Digital World Acquisition was unusual in how few details it offered investors. But the surge in its price indicates some investors are betting on it being popular.

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Some investors appear to be believers in Mr Trump’s ideology, while others see a chance for the company to quickly gain a big audience. But a big chunk of investors appeared simply to be grabbing a chance for a quick buck.

Several threads on Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum, where millions of traders share their successes and failures, saw users bragging about how much money they had made by jumping in and out of Digital World Acquisition Corporation. Others were asking if they should listen to the fear they were feeling of missing out.

Trading in the stock was so furious, and swings in its price were so sharp, that it was temporarily halted at least 12 times throughout the morning.

Digital World Acquisition is a special-purpose acquisition company, an entity that is typically called a SPAC or “blank check company”.

It is sitting on just short of 300 million US dollars (£218 million) of cash that it raised in its own initial public offering, before it went looking for a company to acquire.

SPACs can offer privately held companies a quicker and easier way to get their stocks on an exchange, by merging with them. They were wildly popular earlier this year, but activity had been receding as regulatory scrutiny of them and interest in them dimmed, at least until Wednesday’s Trump-related announcement.

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It can be difficult for sceptical investors to bet that a SPAC’s price will fall, a move called “shorting”, Michael Ohlrogge, an assistant professor of law at New York University who has researched SPACs, said.

With few short sellers, that could remove a force pushing a stock’s price down, allowing it to jump even higher than it would otherwise.

“Overall, I think it’s a big difficulty because it leads to their prices being inflated,” Mr Ohlrogge said.

All the action in Digital World Acquisition’s stock is happening before investors have had a chance to see a proxy statement, which will give details about the merger and possibly about how Trump Media & Technology Group will operate.

The last time Mr Trump ran a publicly traded company, it did not end up well for investors. His casino company, Trump Entertainment Resorts, lost hundreds of millions of dollars over more than a dozen years and filed for bankruptcy several times, hitting shareholders with big losses. Mr Trump fared better. He took in 82 million US dollars (£60 million) in fees, salary and bonuses over the same period, according to Fortune magazine.

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