Francois Pinault (picture), the billionaire founder of luxury conglomerate Kering SA, has emerged as the latest French tycoon to plow into the booming SPAC world.
Pinault, 84, bought a stake in former Credit Suisse Group AG Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam’s blank-check firm, a spokeswoman for the businessman’s holding company confirmed in response to Bloomberg queries. The investment in Freedom Acquisition I Corp. was made in Pinault’s personal capacity.
Freedom Acquisition started trading in the U.S. at the end of February, raising $345 million after Thiam increased the size of the transaction. The offering recorded an oversubscription level in the mid-teens, people with knowledge of the matter said. About one-third of the deal went to family offices, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.
Units of Freedom Acquisition were unchanged at $10.10 at the close Wednesday in New York. Thiam has been on the board of Kering since last year, sitting as a director alongside the elder Pinault’s son, Francois-Henri. A representative for Freedom Acquisition declined to comment.
Pinault joins his main rival in the luxury world, LVMH boss Bernard Arnault, in backing a special purpose acquisition company started by a European banking veteran. Former UniCredit SpA Chief Executive Officer Jean Pierre Mustier said last month he’s teaming up with Arnault and French asset manager Tikehau Capital for a blank-check company that will list in Amsterdam.
Thiam’s SPAC will hunt for technology-enabled businesses in the financial services industry that show growth and the potential to scale, it said in previous filings.