Ex-UniCredit CEO Plans SPAC Amid ‘Transformation’ in Finance

Ex-UniCredit SpA Chief Executive Officer Jean Pierre Mustier plans to raise funds for a special purpose acquisition company, backed by billionaire Bernard Arnault and French asset manager Tikehau Capital.

Mustier is working on the SPAC with former Bank of America Corp. executive Diego de Giorgi, according to a statement on Monday from Tikehau. Bloomberg first reported the news on Saturday. The company will invest in financial services, including wealth management and fintechs, it said.

“There is within financial services a massive transformation which is taking place and which has been accelerated by the health crisis,” Mustier said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Francine Lacqua on Monday. “We lack growth capital in Europe”

Targets will include “traditional and alternative-asset management platforms, innovative financial technology firms, insurance and insurance related services and diversified financial services companies,” according to the statement.

Ex-UniCredit CEO Plans SPAC Amid ‘Transformation’ in Finance

Mustier said that it’s of “paramount importance” for traditional asset management companies to grow in order to reach an effective size.

“Asset management, fintech, insurance and diversified financials -- there is a need for all of them to reach critical size on the one side, in order to grow, or to consolidate,” he said.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. are advising on the venture, people familiar with the matter said earlier. Both banks declined to comment on the plans. De Giorgi and Mustier will be operating partners. Tikehau is a founder-led private equity firm with 28.5 billion euros ($34.6 billion) in assets under management.

Mustier joins an ever growing list of former executives seeking to tap into the SPAC trend to help revive their careers after leaving top finance jobs. Ex-Credit Suisse Group AG Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam is 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.

Ex-Commerzbank CEO Martin Blessing -- who was a co-head of wealth management at UBS -- is also working to raise funds for an SPAC targeting deals in the financial services industry, people familiar said earlier this month.

Mustier announced his departure from UniCredit in November after more than four years at the helm of Italy’s biggest bank, following clashes with board members over strategy. The abrupt resignation came after a tumultuous year for the Italian lender. Like other CEOs, Mustier was forced to scale back the bank’s ambitions because of the coronavirus.

He declined to comment further on Monday on the reasons for his departure other than a difference on strategy, and wished his successor, former UBS Group AG investment banker Andrea Orcel, good luck.

After Mustier’s resignation, De Giorgi had been cited among the early names as a potential CEO candidate. Ranieri de Marchis is taking over as interim general manager until Orcel arrives.

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.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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