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Outgoing UBS chief joins blank-cheque club

New York

THE booming club of special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) just recruited a new, prominent member.

Sergio Ermotti, the outgoing chief executive officer of UBS Group AG, has agreed to serve as chairman of Investindustrial Acquisition Corp. a blank-cheque company, according to a revised prospectus filed on Tuesday. Investindustrial filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to raise US$350 million in a New York Stock Exchange listing.

Mr Ermotti, who led the Swiss bank since 2011, will start serving as chairman of the SPAC on Jan. 1, the prospectus shows. His tenure at UBS is scheduled to end next month when Ralph Hamers takes over.

Prominent investors, buyout shops, politicians and celebrities have joined the SPAC game this year resulting in bigger initial public offerings and acquisitions. Michael Klein, formerly a top rainmaker at Citigroup Inc, is pursuing his fifth blank-cheque company while billionaire investor Bill Ackman scored the biggest ever SPAC listing in July with a US$4 billion offering.

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Firmly established in the US, SPACs have been gaining recent traction with companies and investors in Europe. Avanti Acquisition Corp, a SPAC backed by French entrepreneur Ian Gallienne and Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris, this month raised US$600 million to focus on European targets.

Investindustrial plans to focus on finding targets in consumer, health-care, industrial and technology sectors that have an enterprise value of US$1-5 billion, the filing shows.

The company's directors include Michael Karangelen, a former managing director at TowerBrook Capital Partners; Harvard Business School professor Dante Roscini; and Tensie Whelan, director of the New York University Stern School of Business's Center for Sustainable Business.

Deutsche Bank AG and Goldman Sachs Group Inc are advising Investindustrial on the listing. The company plans to list its units, consisting of one Class A share and one-third of a warrant, under the symbol IIAC.U. BLOOMBERG

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