Finance

Zaoui brothers plan €300m European blank cheque company

Dealmaking brothers Yoël and Michael Zaoui are the latest high-profile bankers to launch a blank-cheque company, with plans to list a €300m Spac in Amsterdam.

The duo, who previously held senior roles at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley before launching their own boutique advisory firm in 2013, will head up Odyssey Acquisition which is set to list on Amsterdam’s Euronext exchange and focus on healthcare and technology companies, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Europe’s Spac market has lagged the frenzy in the US, where $110bn worth of deals have listed so far this year, according to data provider Dealogic. However, $4.4bn Spac IPOs have landed on European exchanges in the second quarter of 2021, a figure that already exceeds previous annual records, with the Dutch city securing the lion’s share of listings.

Spacs raise money on public markets in order to fund acquisitions of companies, usually within two years. A frenzy of blank cheque companies, largely in the US, this year has slowed in recent weeks, however.

READ Ex-Barclays chair Makram Azar increases Spac to $300m amid surging demand

Michael Zaoui will serve as chair of Odyssey, with Yoël co-chief executive alongside former Natixis investment management boss Jean Raby.

The move by the dealmaking duo is seen as complementary to the work of Zaoui & Co, which has traditionally advised on large M&A transactions alongside bulge bracket rivals, the person said. Odyssey will be supported on all aspects of the dealmaking process by Zaoui & Co.

The Financial Times first published details of the Zaoui Brothers’ Spac launch.

Some investment bankers have pointed to the higher quality of Spac sponsors in Europe, compared to the increasingly crowded US market. Meanwhile, listing on the continent can also make it easier to acquire local firms, which may not wish to become a US public company.

Former Unicredit chief executive, Jean Pierre Mustier, is leading Europe’s biggest Spac IPO this year, the $606m Pegasus Acquisition Corp, and working alongside ex-Bank of America dealmaker Diego De Giorgi.

READ Zaoui brothers’ revenues tick up ahead of megadeal roles

Makram Azar, the former chairman of European banking at Barclays, launched a $345m blank cheque company, Golden Falcon Acquisition Corp, in December, but listed in New York despite targeting European technology companies.

Correction: A previous version of thisarticle incorrectly said Golden Falcon Acquisition Corp raised $300m. It raised$345m.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Paul Clarke

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