Ex-Credit Suisse chief Tidjane Thiam launches blank cheque vehicle

Ex-Credit Suisse chief Tidjane Thiam launches blank cheque vehicle

Former Credit Suisse chief executive Tidjane Thiam is raising a $250m special purpose acquisition vehicle to invest in financial services businesses in the developed and developing world, according to people familiar with the matter.

JPMorgan Chase is helping to raise the money after pitching the idea to Mr Thiam, with chief executive Jamie Dimon personally involved, according to these people.

The as-yet-unnamed Spac will be listed in New York and is in discussions with sovereign wealth funds to be anchor backers of the vehicle and several potential board members.

Mr Thiam will be the latest high-profile banker to raise money via a Spac amid a boom in the blank cheque vehicles that has seen the likes of former Citigroup dealmaker Michael Klein and hedge fund manager Bill Ackman raise billions of dollars. 

JPMorgan declined to comment. A representative of Mr Thiam was not immediately able to comment.

Spacs, which list on a stock exchange and raise money from investors, use the proceeds to hunt for private companies they can acquire and take public through a reverse merger. Shareholders do not know which company the shell vehicle will target ahead of the deal, so their investment is essentially a bet on those leading the Spac. 

A recent all-star cohort of sponsors — which receive a 20 per cent stake in the company as a reward for finding a target — have helped lend legitimacy to a structure that was once relegated to the backwaters of finance and more closely associated with penny stocks. 

Other bankers to recently start Spacs are Mr Thiam’s former rival, ex-UBS chief executive Sergio Ermotti, who chairs Investindustrial Acquisition Corp, which filed a $350m US IPO in October. Barclays alumnus Makram Azar’s Golden Falcon Acquisition Corp raised $345m last month on the New York Stock Exchange.

Mr Thiam, a Franco-Ivorian citizen who was previously chief of insurer Prudential, has marketed himself as a person who can take financial services companies in more established countries and connect them to those in emerging markets, one of the people said.

Outside of finance, he has also been linked to political office in France owing to his relationship with President Emmanuel Macron as well as his native Ivory Coast, where last year the Elysée proposed him as a potential member of government ahead of a contentious election.

He faces a regulatory probe in Switzerland over his role in a corporate spying scandal that led to his ousting from Credit Suisse last February.

More banks will be added to the fundraising alongside JPMorgan at the next stage of the New York listing. Credit Suisse, which emerged as one of the leading advisers in the Spac surge last year, is unlikely to be considered, one of the people said.

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