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Iliad’s Niel Teams Up To Launch Organic Foods SPAC In France

Iliad SA Founder Xavier Niel is teaming up with other investors to raise up to $360 million, or 300 million euros, to launch a blank-check company aimed at acquiring assets focused on sustainable and environmentally friendly consumer goods.

Backers of the special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, include Matthieu Pigasse, who leads Centerview Partners’ Paris office, and supermarket chain owner Moez-Alexandre Zouari. The new company will be headed by Zouari, with Pigasse and Niel serving on its board.

The new SPAC, known as 2MX Organic, is seeking a valuation of up to two billion euros and will be traded on the Paris stock exchange.

2MX Organic plans to sell at least 25 million shares for 10 euros apiece. Only qualified investors will be able to subscribe. Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale are acting as joint book-runners on the deal, according to Bloomberg.

Bloomberg said Niel and Pigasse are hoping to cash in on Western Europe’s increasing demand for organic foods. According to HSBC, demand for organics grew by 14 percent in France alone last year.

This will be Niel and Pigasse’s second SPAC in recent years. In 2016, the pair created Mediawan SA, which is focused on acquiring media assets. That company is led by Pierre-Antoine Capton.

Zouari, a key investor in frozen food retailer Picard, recently tried to acquire organic supermarket group Bio c’Bon. He was outbid by Carrefour SA.

Niel recently won a corporate governance battle to block a 3.5-billion-euro capital increase at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield. Niel’s group was also able to win three seats on the company’s supervisory board, Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg also noted that investors have been increasingly turning to SPACs to raise funds for M&A, with $64 billion raised for such vehicles in the U.S. this year. SPACs have been less popular in Europe, with only $786 million being channeled to three deals in 2020.

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