Investment

German and Swiss family offices back SPAC looking to target “Hidden Champions”

A group of Swiss and German family offices are backing a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) as the blank cheque company boom attracts heavyweight European investors on top of the already well-trodden interest from US-based investors.

Last week, Constellation Acquisition Corp announced its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, priced at $300 million. Its been backed by some senior private equity specialists some of whom are linked to the family offices that are also backing the SPAC. And it wants to target “Hidden Champions” in the German economy, many of which are family-owned. 

Backers include Martin Weckwerth, a former senior manager at the UK private equity group Permira, and the Munich-based family office MC Investments, where he is managing director. MC Investments manages the money of Weckwerth and Christoph Zeiss, the co-founder of Heads! International, a Munich-based executive search firm. Zeiss comes from the family who owns Carl Zeiss, the German-based maker of camera lens and optical systems.  

Constellation is also backed by MC. Squared Holding, the Swiss-based family office of Carl Zeiss and the Zeiss family. 

Michael Wunderlich, an external advisor to Constellation, is managing director of JR Beteiligungs Holding, a Swiss-based family office managing the money of German investor Jens Reidel. The former chairman of BC Partners, a London-based private equity group, Reidel now sits on the board of Sporttotal, a German sports TV production group.  

Constellation said in its Securities & Exchange Commission filings that it plans to target companies located in North America and Europe. It added: “This (effort) is…strengthened by our team’s unparalleled operational track record and network in the DACH (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland) region. 

“Constellation is well-positioned to identify targets within this attractive geographic region. (Such as) ‘Hidden Champions’ (which) are defined as companies with leading market positions, generating up to $4 billion in revenues annually, circa 50% of which are based in Germany.”

The senior management of the SPAC also includes Klaus Kleinfeld, the SPACs CEO, and a former CEO at the huge German conglomerate Seimens; Hugo Banziger, a former senior banker at Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse as well as the ex-chairman of the EUREX Exchange; and Vesna Nevistic, a former senior banker at UBS who now sits on the board of Compagnie Financiere Richemont, the Swiss-based holding group of billionaire Johann Rupert.

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