Tidjane Thiam’s Spac pursues $1.5bn Latin American fintech target

The special purpose acquisition company of former Credit Suisse boss Tidjane Thiam is in talks to acquire two companies in Latin America, as part of plans to capitalise on rapid growth in the region’s fintech sector.

Mexican fintech group Credijusto and continental corporate data provider CIAL Dun & Bradstreet would be merged and listed in New York later this year under the plans, people familiar with the matter told the Financial Times.

The combined entity would be worth about $1.5bn, the report said, with new and existing investors in talks to pursue an additional capital raise for his blank-cheque company Freedom Acquisition I via a pipeline or private investment in public capital.

Freedom declined to comment. Credijusto and CIAL were contacted for comment.

READ Emerging markets now in sights for blank-cheque companies

Thiam’s Freedom vehicle raised $345m in March via a listing on the New York Stock Exchange, advised by JPMorgan, Bank of America and Broadhaven. The debut was sponsored by a Pimco-affiliated private fund.

The Spac represented a change of tack for Thiam, who is attempting to shake off his past at Credit Suisse which saw him embroiled in a spying investigation that later prompted his resignation.

An external review by Credit Suisse’s board in 2019 found its then-chief operating officer had ordered surveillance of multiple executives at the firm, allegedly without Thiam’s knowledge. Thiam resigned after he struggled to contain the reputational fallout. Proceedings over the scandal by Swiss watchdog Finma are ongoing, Reuters reported, but are expected to conclude soon.

Several top-tier bankers have launched Spacs this year amid a major deal craze, including former London Stock Exchange boss Xavier Rolet, former Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn and ex-Unicredit director Jean Pierre Mustier.

READ Meet the high-flying bankers riding the Spac wave

Spacs are viewed as an easier way to take a company public, by listing a blank shell and raising capital that is then used to merge with an acquisition target.

But the pipeline has fizzled in recent months, as rising regulatory scrutiny of the area put off further big listings. Quarterly volume of Spac issuance fell 82% to $16bn in the second quarter of 2021 from the start of the year, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Credijusto was founded in 2015 as a lender for small and medium-sized businesses in Mexico, led by David Poritz and Allan Apoj. The duo would continue to lead the firm as part of the merged entity, the FT reported.

Credit Suisse is among Credijusto’s existing investors, alongside Goldman Sachs, Point72 Ventures, New Residential Investment, Kaszek, QED Investors and John Mack.

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To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Emily Nicolle

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