Ex-Commerzbank CEO Plans European SPAC

Ex-Commerzbank AG Chief Executive Officer Martin Blessing is planning to raise funds for a special purpose acquisition company targeting deals in the European financial industry, people familiar with the matter said.

Blessing has been speaking with potential partners about listing a blank-check company in Amsterdam, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. He’s seeking to raise about 300 million euros ($359 million), they said.

Credit Suisse Group AG is advising on the proposed deal, which comes amid a flurry of planned listings in Europe following the SPAC boom in the U.S., the people said. Other banks could be added to the lineup at a later date, according to the people, who indicated details of the listing plans could still change. Representatives for Blessing and Credit Suisse declined to comment.

Blessing joins a growing list of former executives seeking to take advantage of the demand for blank check companies to help revive their careers after leaving finance. Ex-Credit Suisse Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam is said to be planning a $250 million vehicle while ex-Citigroup Inc. banker Michael Klein and former Deutsche Bank AG investment banking head Garth Ritchie have already listed such companies in the U.S.

Blessing left Commerzbank and joined UBS in 2016, where he held various roles including co-head of wealth management, and was considered a future contender for the position of chief executive officer before he was replaced by Iqbal Khan in a shake-up in top leadership in 2019.

Blank check companies raised a record $101 billion from listings last year, the bulk of it from the U.S., according to data compiled by Bloomberg. European billionaires and bankers are now lining up their own listings in the region, with more expected this year.

SPAC’s pool funds to finance merger and acquisition opportunities. Prominent investors, buyout shops and even celebrities have been driving the interest in SPACs, resulting in bigger IPOs and deals.

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