The Zaoui brothers join the new European Spac movement



The Zaoui brothers’ business duo has teamed up with several prominent European executives to create a special-purpose acquisition company that raises 300 million euros to invest in health and technology companies in the region.

Odyssey Acquisition will be listed on the Amsterdam Euronext Stock Exchange, according to people familiar with the situation, as the main beneficiary of a post-Brexit change in London-denominated equity trading emerges as the Spac capital of Europe.

List spaces in the stock market, and then go find a target company to merge with. Led by a wave of activity in the United States, they have raised nearly $ 110 billion worldwide from 381 listings this year, according to data provider Refinitiv, and more than 500 are ready to acquire. The market in Europe lags behind: only 18 Spacs have raised about $ 5 billion between them so far this year, according to Refinitiv.

After an 18-month boom, the activity has had slowed down in the United States since the so-called Pipe financing dried up, a crucial source of funding for companies with blank check to complete their acquisitions.

Michael Zaoui is president of Odyssey and his brother Yoël is co-director with Jean Raby, the former director of Natixis Investment Management in Paris.

Michael was a former head of European mergers and acquisitions at Morgan Stanley, while Yoël was previously co-head of global mergers and acquisitions at Goldman Sachs before the couple set up on their own and established the banking boutique of Zaoui Investments & Co. based in London. 2013.

Odyssey will have the support of Zaoui & Co in all stages of the contract, from the identification of objectives to completion. Michel Combes, President of SoftBank International and former General Manager of the Sprint, Altice and Alcatel-Lucent telecommunications groups, will advise you on telecommunications, media and technology offerings. For healthcare offerings, it will be based on the experience of Olivier Brandicourt, former head of the French pharmaceutical group Sanofi and advisor to Blackstone.

“It’s a strong, experienced team and the Spac market in Europe is underdeveloped relative to the United States,” said Peter Schoenfeld, founder of PSAM, a $ 3 billion New York hedge fund that buys the check in white of the Zaouis. company on the first day.

“When Europe emerges from the pandemic, I hope that private companies will seek capital at scale. Odyssey Acquisition is in a position to deliver this capital more efficiently than a traditional IPO process ”.

The foundation behind Odyssey, the IPO of which is subscribed by Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan, is to support the development of European companies at a time when the pandemic has accelerated behavioral changes and the digital transformation of whole industries.

A growing number of European private companies, valued at more than $ 1 billion, are emerging at the intersection of health and technology. They include companies like implementation of medical insurance Alan; Doctolib, an online medical appointment management service linking patients and healthcare professionals; i Benevolent AI, which develops artificial intelligence and computational medicine technology.

The potential for space founders is appealing great rewards of a successful acquisition goal. Vehicle sponsors usually receive 20% of their shares for a nominal fee. Last week, Jim Chanos, the leading seller of short films, accused some who have made companies public through a Spac of “playing” fast and loose with its projections ”in an effort to attract retail investors, which it has also had scrutiny extracted from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.

A target size of 300 million euros would place Odyssey among the largest spaces in Europe. In April, a blank check company created by LVMH executive chairman Bernard Arnault and the former head of UniCredit, Jean Pierre Mustier, to invest in European financial companies raised 500 million euros in its listing in Amsterdam.

Since its launch in 2013, Zaoui & Co has advised on transactions worth 225 billion euros. More recently advised SoftBank on the sale of British chip designer Arm Holdings to Nvidia for $ 40 billion and the Peugeot family to $ 50 billion merger between the French PSA and the Italian-American rival Fiat-Chrysler.


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