Massive Republican Donor Jeff Yass Owned Shares in Trump Media Merger Accomplice

Jeff Yass, the billionaire Wall Road financier and Republican megadonor who’s a significant investor within the father or mother firm of TikTok, was additionally the most important institutional shareholder of the shell firm that lately merged with former President Donald J. Trump’s social media firm.

A December regulatory submitting confirmed that Mr. Yass’s buying and selling agency, Susquehanna Worldwide Group, owned about 2 p.c of Digital World Acquisition Corp., which merged with Trump Media & Know-how Group on Friday. That stake, of about 605,000 shares, was value about $22 million primarily based on Digital World’s final closing share worth.

It’s unclear if Susquehanna nonetheless owns these shares, as a result of massive traders disclose their holdings to regulators solely periodically. But when it did retain its stake, Mr. Yass’s agency would turn into certainly one of Trump Media’s bigger institutional shareholders when it begins buying and selling this week following the merger.

Shares of Digital World have surged about 140 p.c this yr because the merger with the father or mother firm of Reality Social, Mr. Trump’s social media platform, drew nearer and Mr. Trump turned the presumptive Republican nominee for president.

“Susquehanna is a market maker and has zero economic interest in Trump Media,” mentioned the corporate in an announcement. “The firm’s long position is offset by short positions of the same size.”

Regulatory filings present the agency used offsetting securities to attempt to decrease its beneficial properties or losses within the inventory.

The corporate assertion didn’t touch upon whether or not the agency nonetheless owned a stake in Digital World, or on the connection between Mr. Yass and Mr. Trump.

Mr. Yass has been within the information lately for a number of causes. An enormous contributor to Republican candidates and political motion committees that assist libertarian and conservative causes, together with the Membership for Progress, Mr. Yass’s agency can also be an enormous shareholder in ByteDance, TikTok’s father or mother firm. The U.S. funding companies Susquehanna, BlackRock and Normal Atlantic and others personal 60 p.c of ByteDance.

This month, the Home handed a invoice to power ByteDance to promote TikTok, the Chinese language-controlled social media firm.

The Club for Growth has sought to foyer Republicans in Congress to oppose any try to ban TikTok if it was nonetheless managed by China, and Mr. Yass has helped the conservative group fund that effort. (The Membership for Progress had opposed Mr. Trump’s re-election marketing campaign, however appears to have reconciled with him.)

Mr. Trump had supported banning TikTok in america, however he lately reversed his stance. A couple of weeks in the past, he acknowledged having a brief meeting with Mr. Yass — recognized in a 2022 Wall Street Journal column as a “never Trumper” — however mentioned the 2 males by no means mentioned TikTok.

An individual near Mr. Trump’s marketing campaign mentioned that Mr. Yass was anticipated to offer a big donation to a gaggle supporting the previous president’s political marketing campaign. Mr. Yass mentioned by means of a spokesman that he had by no means given to Mr. Trump and had no plans to take action.

Susquehanna, which facilitates trades in hundreds of shares utilizing mathematical fashions, isn’t the one agency that stands to make cash on Digital World. In February, Digital World disclosed that it raised $50 million from a gaggle of institutional traders to cowl bills associated to the merger. The traders lent the corporate cash that may be transformed into shares. The traders within the deal have but to be disclosed.

General, hedge funds and buying and selling companies owned round 5 p.c of Digital World’s 30 million shares excellent on the finish of final yr. The overwhelming majority of Digital World’s roughly 400,000 shareholders are particular person traders, a lot of them supporters of Mr. Trump.

The surge within the worth of Digital World shares this yr has boosted the worth of Mr. Trump’s 79-million-share stake in Trump Media by billions of {dollars}. Mr. Trump can also be being issued a category of shares that can give him not less than 55 p.c voting energy over all shareholder measures.

The merger was finalized simply earlier than Mr. Trump’s Monday deadline to safe a bond to cowl a $454 million penalty imposed by a choose in a civil fraud case.

The previous president’s Trump Media shares may present him with a monetary lifeline to boost the money wanted to get a bond. However to do this, he wants Trump Media’s seven-member board to take away a restriction that forestalls him from promoting shares or utilizing shares as collateral for a bond for the following six months.

The board consists of Mr. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr., and three former members of his administration: Kash Patel, who was the chief of workers to Mr. Trump’s appearing secretary of protection; the previous U.S. commerce consultant Robert Lighthizer; and Linda McMahon, a former administrator of the Small Enterprise Administration.

Ms. McMahon is a chair of an enormous fund-raiser for Mr. Trump scheduled for April 6 in Palm Seashore, Fla., in accordance with a replica of the invitation. The occasion is co-hosted by John Paulson, the billionaire investor, and consists of various Wall Road financiers as chairs. Mr. Yass is just not talked about as certainly one of them.

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.