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Saturday, November 27, 2021

Who is the mysterious financier behind Trump’s new media company?

From WeWork’s Miami office, a mysterious financier named Patrick Orlando becomes an unexpected force behind what for a moment appears to be a meme stock, the media startup of former US President Donald Trump.

The Orlando Corporation is set to stand financially behind the “Trump Media and Technology Group”, which is an attempt by the former president to push back against the big tech companies.

Trump says he plans to start a social network called TruthSocial, but has broader ambitions to create a conglomerate comprising news, live broadcasts, and technology to rival CNN and Disney+.

The company will go public through its merger with Orlando-based Digital World Acquisition Corp.

If all goes according to plan, it will happen before the 2022 midterm elections, enabling Trump to reach millions of supporters after he was kicked out of Twitter and Facebook for fomenting a rebellion in the Capitol.

The confluence of money and politics
The surprising news that Trump was seeking to launch his own platform through a special purpose acquisition company sent shares of Digital World soaring, spurred by the entry of retail investors in droves.

That sent the stock up more than 350% on Thursday, giving the company a valuation of about $1.8 billion.

Regardless of whether Trump is able to successfully implement this business venture, it is still almost unimportant.

The rally in the PSA stock is a meeting point between two powerful forces — one financial and one political — in a situation where markets and social media frenzy have converged, akin to a GameStop rush earlier this year.

office in Wuhan
This deal brings together an unexpected cast of characters. Orlando, a former derivatives trader at Deutsche Bank, launched banking company Peniceri Capital nearly a decade ago. He also co-founded a sugar trading company and worked in sugar refining.

Recently, companies have adopted a “blank check”. Orlando is also the CEO of Yunhong International, a special purpose acquisition company incorporated in the Cayman Islands, with its office in Wuhan, China.

Yunhong International raised $60 million last year and was supposed to merge with battery maker Giga Carbon Natural, but the deal was canceled in September.

It is reported that Orlando did not return calls and an email seeking his comment.

“Digital World”
Digital World raised $293 million in September from a group of hedge funds including DI Shaw & Co, Saba Capital Management, Highbridge Capital Management, Palm Beach, and Lighthouse Investments. Partners are headquartered in Florida.

Unlike most SPVs, the company does not have large private investors or private investment in public equity. They support SPC mergers by helping to enable a deal to take place even when early investors decide to redeem their shares. The World Digital board of directors is known to be easy on people with media experience.

World Digital’s chief financial officer is Luiz Felipe de Orleans y Braganca, a member of Brazil’s National Congress. He is often referred to as a “prince” due to his claim to the defunct Brazilian throne as a descendant of Emperor Pedro II.

Braganca, who advocated a return to the monarchy in Brazil, served as director of Time Warner’s Latin America division.

“This new platform will fight the tyranny of the tech giants,” Braganca, 52, said in an Instagram post that included a picture of him with Trump.

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