Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs president and Trump administration adviser, joined Wall Street’s latest buyout fad as he moved to raise $600m through a listing of a blank cheque company.
The well-known Wall Street executive has joined forces with Clifton Robbins, a former dealmaker at the private equity group KKR, to raise the money through a so-called special purpose acquisition vehicle, or Spac, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission late on Tuesday.
The company, known as Cohn Robbins Holdings Corp, said it would “capitalise” on Mr Cohn and Mr Robbins’ relationships and experience in the investment world. It said it had not started discussions with a would-be target, but that it would attempt to clinch a deal with a large private equity- or venture-backed company, or buy a business being carved out of a company.
“Our founders have expertise and experience investing across virtually all industries and sectors and we may pursue an acquisition in any business industry,” the company said in its filing. It added that it believed there were “attractive trends” in the consumer, software and financial technologies sectors.
Mr Robbins had earlier set a target of raising $300m, according to a draft filing with the US securities regulator from July, before Mr Cohn joined him this month. The two men, who have known each other for more than 20 years, will serve as co-chairmen.
Blank cheque buyout vehicles have enjoyed a boom this year after a series of high-profile offerings from big name investors including Bill Ackman, the founder of hedge fund Pershing Square, Chinh Chu, a former Blackstone dealmaker, and Michael Klein, a former Citi banker.
Spacs raise money through an initial public offering and then spend up to two years looking for a target to buy, providing private companies an alternative path to a public listing over a traditional IPO.
Such vehicles have boomed in popularity, with $23.9bn raised in Spac listings from the start of the year to early August, according to Refinitiv. The haul includes the two largest deals on record, including last month’s from Mr Ackman, who raised $4bn as it searched for a large tech company to acquire.
Paul Ryan, the former Republican congressman and speaker of the House of Representatives, has also joined the action. He will take on the role of chairman of Executive Network Partnering, which is looking to raise $300m, according to a regulatory filing earlier this month.
The craze has triggered a scramble among underwriters across Wall Street to snag a piece of the booming business. Credit Suisse will act as the sole underwriter for the Cohn Robbins Holding listing.
Mr Cohn cut his teeth on Goldman Sachs’ commodities desk in the early 1990s and rose to become president and chief operating officer before leaving for the White House in 2017. He held the role of chief economic adviser to President Donald Trump and director of the US National Economic Council until his departure in 2018.
Mr Robbins left KKR in 2000 and worked at private equity group General Atlantic before launching Blue Harbour Group, a hedge fund, in 2004. The fund announced in February it would convert into a family office.
Cohn Robbins plans to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange with the symbol CRHC.