Fallout from the coronavirus has fueled a fresh wave of interest in an unusual investment vehicle with a shaky reputation: the blank-check company.

Blank-check companies are essentially big pools of cash, listed on an exchange, whose sole purpose is to do an acquisition. When a blank-check company buys a target firm, the firm gets its spot on the exchange. For the target firm, it is a backdoor way of doing an initial public offering—and with the IPO market rattled by Covid-19 and wild volatility, it has become a more attractive…

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