Europe's richest man is joining the SPAC craze
Posted February 15, 2021 7:46 a.m. EST
CNN — Bernard Arnault, the chairman of luxury goods group LVMH, is the latest billionaire to embrace Wall Street's hot new way to raise money.
Arnault's investment holding company Financière Agache is joining forces with French asset manager Tikehau Capital and two high-profile European bankers to launch a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that will hunt for deals in Europe's financial services sector.
Tikehau Capital said in a statement on Monday that potential targets include asset management platforms, fintech firms, insurance services and diversified financial services companies. The focus will be on "scalable platforms offering strong profit growth potential," it added, indicating that this will be the first of several SPACs it plans to launch.
Jean-Pierre Mustier, the former CEO of Italian bank UniCredit, and Diego De Giorgi, a former head of global investment banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, will be the operating partners of the company, Tikehau Capital said.
SPACs, or "blank-check" companies raise capital through an IPO to buy existing businesses. They were once an obscure part of the market but have exploded in popularity. Last year, 229 SPACs in the United States raised $76 billion, up from just $13 billion in 2019, according to Goldman Sachs. A spate of new filings this year — including from former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Rocket Internet co-founder Oliver Samwer — indicates the pace isn't letting up.
While European stock exchanges have so far largely missed out on the boom, there are early signs that the market is beginning to take off in the region.
Tikehau Capital did not provide details on the amount its SPAC is seeking to raise, saying only that the four sponsors plan to collectively invest at least 10% of that amount. Arnault has a net worth of $114 billion, making him the fourth richest person globally and the richest individual in Europe, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
The SPAC will IPO in Amsterdam, the latest in a series of wins for the Dutch city's exchange. Euronext Amsterdam is one of the biggest beneficiaries from changes that mean EU financial institutions cannot trade European shares on UK exchanges after Brexit.
— Julia Horowitz contributed reporting.