Former President Donald Trump grabbed the attention of Wall Street Thursday after a brief announcement that his new media venture is going public, sending billions of dollars in and out of a SPAC called Digital World Acquisition Corp. (ticker: DWAC), which rose 356% on a volume of nearly half a billion shares – clearly a record for DWAC which had been sleepy until announcing the merger.
But while most attention has been on Mr. Trump and Trump Media and Technology Group, of which he is Chairman, little is known about the SPAC that has teamed up with him or the man at its helm.
Meet Patrick Orlando, the CEO of Digital World (which raised $300 million earlier this year and has a little less on hand) as well as two other SPACs. According to filings searched using Sentieo, an AI-enabled research platform, Mr. Orlando is the CEO of Benessere Capital Acquisition Corp. (ticker: BENE), which is based in Miami as well as CEO of of Benessere Capital, LLC, an investment consulting and investment banking firm he founded in Miami in October 2012. Bloomberg recently reported Benessere is near a deal with Florida-based hydrogen fuel firm ECombustible, but it hasn’t been formally announced.
Perhaps more interesting is Mr. Orlando’s role in Yunhong International (ticker: ZGYH), another SPAC where he is CEO. Yunhong International is located in an office building in Wuhan, China, according to SEC filings. That same address is shared by Yunhong Group, which sells an array of supplements such as “Natural Brain Booster Capsule” and “Bitter Gourd Peptides”.
Of course, it is common for SPAC specialists to oversee several vehicles at one time, though some argue it creates a conflict if they are hunting the same targets. But with Mr. Orlando’s background in such an unusual locale as Wuhan, it remains a mystery how me matched up with Mr. Trump.
Mr. Orlando also earned two degrees from MIT and previously was Vice President of Sucro Can International LLC, a sugar processing company, where he focused on compliance, finance, and processing technology, according to SEC filings.
Mr. Orlando didn’t reply to the gmail address listed on his Bloomberg profile or answer calls to a Miami number listed as his business phone.
As for anyone who wants to bet against Mr. Trump’s new media company, the price could be very steep. “Stock borrow rates will be high, most certainly in the double digits to start but we will know more in the morning,” said Ihor Dusaniwsky, Managing Director and Head of Predictive Analytics, S3 Partners. “Shorts may want to short DWAC, but they will be limited to a scarcity and eventually high-priced stock loan market in the SPAC.”