British investor Ian Osborne — who has been instrumental in propelling the special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) investment movement in the U.S. — is now trying to advance a similar process in Amsterdam, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday (May 11), citing sources.
Hedosophia, the fund run by Osborne, is looking to notch €400 million ($486 million USD) for an Amsterdam SPAC that will ultimately target a European tech unicorn valued up to €5 billion ($6 billion USD). Hedosophia European Growth — the blank-check or shell company — will merge with an existing private group and take it public. It will also be backed by global investors such as Third Point, according to sources, per FT.
Osborne has teamed up with former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya — Canadian-American venture capitalist, engineer, SPAC sponsor and the founder and CEO of Social Capital. Osborne has been seen as instrumental in jump-starting the SPAC market in the U.S. in 2017 with his first blank check company, which went on to merge with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.
SPACs are now considered among the hottest investment trends across Asia and the United States, accounting for almost 50 percent of the $230 billion raised worldwide. Despite that global trend across the past 12 months, SPAC deals are largely not prevalent in Europe. The European equity markets have had little traction in appealing to SPACs. The eight so far in 2021 have notched just south of $2.2 billion, according to Refinitiv data, per FT.
The newly combined firm is anticipated to list publicly on the SPAC-friendly Euronext in Amsterdam. The rules there support the kind of blank-check investments that powered the market’s rally in the U.S. Talks of Amsterdam as the next destination for SPACs started with a discussion in February with Jean Pierre Mustier, the former UniCredit chief. Aside from having SPAC expertise, Amsterdam was also targeted for its “deep volume” of European equities.
Social Capital Hedosophia indicated in September 2020 that it was looking to raise $500 million for a new blank check company.