Ivorian financer Tidjane Thiam is raising US$250m to invest in financial services

CÔTE D’IVOIRE – Ivorian banker Tidjane Thiam is raising a US$250m special purpose acquisition vehicle to invest in financial services businesses in the developed and developing world, reports Bloomberg.

The information is however yet to be confirmed by the former CEO of Credit Suisse. JP Morgan, presented as the main arranger of this project, has also not made any comment yet.

Thiam is familiar with the international investment world. Before he joined Credit Suisse, he managed Prudential, a big British insurer whose investment portfolio covers many developing and developed countries.

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 type of firms set up by the financier does not a priori target specific investments. Investors only inject funds in the project based on the confidence they have in the project leader and his or her ability to generate the expected returns. Many sovereign funds have been approached for this purpose.

Tidjane Thiam will thus have another opportunity to evaluate the confidence the international investment world has in him. If the project is successfully completed, he will operate in the US financial market, which is reputed to be difficult and very competitive. As a result, the development of special acquisition vehicles has become commonplace for former senior financial executives.

Between 2015 and 2020, about 200 such vehicles were launched in the US according to a specialized platform. Nine of them closed without making any investments, 82 have made investments and 109 are in the negotiation phase. The strategy to be implemented by Mr. Thiam to make a difference is to be monitored.

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.           

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.

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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