The Niel-Zouari-Pigasse trio managed to raise 300 million euros for its SPAC

Posted on Dec. 2020 at 17:17Updated Dec. 7 2020 at 19:27

Less than a week after the announcement of the launch of 2MX Organic, the Niel-Zouari-Pigasse trio managed to raise 300 million euros on the markets. Obviously, the aura enjoyed by the three businessmen outweighed any reluctance that investors might have had with regard to the SPAC, a rather particular type of vehicle. The Special Purpose Acquisition Companies, well known in the United States, in fact correspond to empty shells with no operational activity whose purpose is to make one or more acquisitions. The order book, held by Deutsche Bank and Société Générale, was closed on Monday at 1 p.m.

As early as Friday morning, the bankers had indicated to interested investors that the objective was no longer to raise 250 million euros – an amount that had been easily reached in 48 hours – but 300 million, the maximum envisaged with the exercise of the extension clause. 2MX Organic should therefore make its debuts on Euronext Paris, in the professional compartment, on Wednesday 9 December. This is the biggest IPO since the start of the year. Until then, the prize went to the IPO of Nacon, the games subsidiary of Bigben, which had raised around 100 million euros last March.

Will have three promoters

The success of this fundraising is due a lot to the personality and the background of the three promoters. “Many investors who really wanted to be associated with this project have gone beyond the fact that it was a PSPC”, explains Emilie Jadat O’Shea, head of equity syndication at Societe Generale. Xavier Niel is the founder of Iliad, parent company of Free, Matthieu Pigasse is the former boss of Lazard France. As for Moez-Alexandre Zouari, he became a reference shareholder of Picard, after having taken over management of a large number of Franprix, Leader Price and Monop ‘, brands of the Casino group, of which he became the first “master franchisee”.

Xavier Niel and Matthieu Pigasse are not at their first attempt. In 2016, they launched the first SPAC on the Paris Stock Exchange, Mediawan. Investors were therefore familiar with this instrument. Wall Street’s enthusiasm for this type of product (more than $ 70 billion was raised there via the PSPCs this year) was also likely to reassure the most skeptical. Most of the investors participating in the project are either traditional “long only” management – where the manager only resells the securities when he considers that they have reached their potential – or hedge funds. Some “family offices” or private management companies have also expressed interest in the operation.

The Mediawan experience

“The vehicle’s sponsors learned from the Mediawan experience”, explains Emilie Jadat O’Shea. To avoid being seen as a small value and allow it to achieve a certain liquidity, “The size of the acquisition considered will be larger”. Recourse to debt and additional equity – for example via capital increases reserved for institutional investors – make an operation approaching 1.5 to 2 billion euros possible.

Mediawan did not post an extraordinary stock market performance, the vehicle having suffered like all small and mid caps in recent years. “Timing is also very important, which is why an acquisition is planned for the first half of 2021”, indicates Pierre Troussel, ECM France co-manager at Société Générale. Mediawan had made its first acquisition almost a year after entering the market.

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