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Trump Financier in Last-Ditch Move to Salvage Hydrogen SPAC Deal

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(Bloomberg) — Patrick Orlando, the financier helping take Donald Trump’s digital venture public, is making a last-ditch effort to stave off the liquidation of one of his other blank-check companies.

Orlando’s Benessere Capital Acquisition Corp. is asking investors for permission to extend the SPAC’s one-year lifespan, which is due to expire at the end of this week. A shareholder meeting will be held Friday to vote on Benessere’s request to extend the deadline for completing a deal until July 7, according to a statement.

An extension would give Benessere more time to close the $805 million acquisition of Miami-based hydrogen fuel developer eCombustible Energy LLC, which was announced in November. Investors holding at least 65% of Benessere’s common stock need to vote in favor of the extension. Otherwise, the special-purpose acquisition company will be liquidated and its cash returned to shareholders.

That’s happened to Orlando before. Another blank-check company he ran, Wuhan, China-based Yunhong International Co., dissolved in November after failing to find an acquisition target by its deadline. Yunhong had asked shareholders for another six months to do a deal, but didn’t get enough votes for the extension to be approved.

Highbridge Capital Management LLC, the hedge fund manager owned by JPMorgan Chase & Co., is Benessere’s largest shareholder with 9.2% of its common stock, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Other major owners include investor Sander Gerber’s Hudson Bay Capital Management LP and former Deutsche Bank AG trader David Puritz’s Shaolin Capital Management LLC.

A virtual meeting of Benessere stockholders will be held at 10 a.m. New York time on Friday to approve the extension, and investors can cast their votes ahead of time online or by phone. The meeting has already been delayed once, giving Benessere more time to drum up support for the extension.

Orlando has also been busy with other deals. Another SPAC he runs, Digital World Acquisition Corp., agreed in October to merge with Trump’s nascent online media venture in a deal valued at as much as $1.7 billion.

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