Iris Knobloch, WarnerMedia’s former president of France, Benelux, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, is launching a €250 million ($300M) European SPAC with Artemis, a holding company backed by François-Henri Pinault, the billionaire French businessman married to Salma Hayek.
Named I2PO, the special-purpose acquisition company claims to be the first outfit of its kind in Europe dedicated to investing in entertainment and leisure companies. I2PO is registered in France and is listing on Euronext Paris.
SPACs, also called “blank-check” vehicles, are basically shells that go public to look for private companies to buy. Selling to a SPAC is generally seen as an easier and cheaper route to an IPO. There have been a rash of SPACs in recent months, with notable examples in entertainment including Forest Road Acquisition Corp, run by former Disney executive Kevin Mayer.
Knobloch, who announced her exit from WarnerMedia last month, will serve as I2PO’s chairwoman and CEO. Artemis will be represented by Pinault and Alban Greget, who will become I2PO board members. Artemis controls luxury group Kering, which owns brands including Gucci and French soccer club Stade Rennais FC. French investment banker Matthieu Pigasse is also backing I2PO through his Combat Holding vehicle.
Knobloch will count Airbnb executive Catherine Powell and Matthias Döpfner, CEO of German publishing giant Axel Springer, as strategic advisors. I2PO’s independent board members will include Mercedes Erra, executive president of ad group Havas, and Fleur Pellerin, the former French digital and culture minister.
“Europe is home to many solid companies with high potential in this sector, which, through the contribution of capital, resources and expertise by I2PO, will have the necessary support to take their business to the next level,” the company said in its launch materials. It wants to pursue established brands in the entertainment and leisure space, including streaming, gaming, and music.
“We are here to build a European champion in the sector,” Knobloch told the Financial Times. “I really think the world has changed . . . Scale matters and size matters. That’s why I see a huge opportunity to consolidate a fragmented market and to go beyond Europe into other markets.”
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