An obscure Miami financier named Patrick Orlando is now the unlikely force behind the unassuming MAGA stock. It’s the media startup of ex-President Donald J. Trump.
Orlando’s firm is set to be the money behind Trump Media and Technology Group, the former president’s attempt to fight back against Big Tech. Trump says he plans to start with a social network called Truth Social but has broader ambitions to create a conglomerate—with news, streaming and technology businesses to compete with CNN and Disney+.
The company will go public through a merger with Orlando’s Digital World Acquisition Corp., and if all goes according to plan, it’ll happen before the 2022 mid-term elections, enabling Trump to reach millions of supporters after he was kicked off Twitter and Facebook for inciting insurrection in the Capitol.
For the moment it was not clear if Trump would be able to successfully launch his next business venture. The surge represented the convergence of two powerful forces—one financial, the other political—in a markets-meet-social-media craze akin to the wild run in GameStop earlier this year.
This deal brings together an unusual cast of characters.
Orlando, a former Deutsche Bank AG derivatives trader, started banking firm Benessere Capital almost a decade ago. He’s also co-founded a sugar-trading company and worked for a sugar processor.
Most recently he’s embraced blank check companies. Yunhong International was founded in Cayman Islands by Orlando, and its chief executive is Orlando. Their offices are located in Wuhan (China). Yunhong, which raised $60 million in the last year, was supposed to merge with Giga Carbon Neutrality battery maker. However, that deal was scrapped in September.
Orlando didn’t reply to calls and an email from Bloomberg asking for comment.
Digital World was able to raise $293 million from several hedge funds, including D.E. Shaw, Saba Capital Management (Highbridge Capital Management), Shaw and Palm Beach, Florida-based Lighthouse Investment Partners.
Unlike most SPACs it doesn’t have PIPE investors, or private investment in public equity. By allowing a deal through, even if investors have already redeemed their shares, they help support SPAC mergers.
Digital World’s board is light with people with media expertise.
Its Chief Financial Officer is Luiz Philippe de Orleans e Braganca, a member of Brazil’s national congress. He’s frequently referred to as a “prince” because of his claim to the defunct Brazilian throne as a descendant of Emperor Pedro II. Braganca, who’s called for a return to the monarchy in Brazil, has worked as a director for Time Warner’s AOL Latin America division.
“This new platform will fight the tyranny of Bigtechs,” Braganca, 52, said in an Instagram post that included a photo of himself and Trump.
—With assistance from Jennifer Jacobs and Tom Maloney.