Last May, Miami plaintiffs lawyer and LifeWallet founder John Ruiz rang the opening bell on the floor of the Nasdaq to celebrate the first day of trading of his public company. It was the second-largest business combination in history that occurred through a special-purpose acquisition company, a method of taking a company public that dominated the rocket-fueled capital markets of 2021 and early 2022 in part because it skirted much of the regulatory scrutiny associated with traditional IPOs.
Now, less than a year later, the Medicare recovery firm-turned-healthcare data company is in crisis. After losing half of its value on the first day of trading last May and falling below $2 by the end of the first week, the stock has since struggled to stay above $1. On March 11, share prices dipped below $1 and haven’t recovered since, a violation of a Nasdaq rule requiring companies to avoid falling below $1 for 30 consecutive days or face delisting. LifeWallet then missed the March 31 deadline for filing its 2022 annual report—the company posted a $135 million operating loss in its Q3 2022 report—and recently admitted that its post-IPO accounting could not be trusted, in part because it continued to value certain assets acquired in the IPO at (much higher) pre-IPO prices.