PARIS - Francois Pinault, the French billionaire who founded Kering, the group behind Gucci, has invested in a special purpose acquisition vehicle (SPAC) set up by former Credit Suisse boss Tidjane Thiam, a spokeswoman said on Wednesday. The investment by Pinault, first reported by Bloomberg, follows an eruption of new launches of SPACs or blank cheque companies in Europe after a boom in the United States. A spokeswoman for Pinault, 84, declined to comment further on the size of his stake, which will be held by his personal holding company. It comes after fellow French billionaire Bernard Arnault - France's richest man and the founder of luxury conglomerate LVMH, Kering's biggest rival - also invested in a SPAC targeting financial deals, with former Unicredit boss Jean-Pierre Mustier. SPACs raise money from investors with the aim of finding a private company to buy. They have emerged as a popular alternative to stock market listings for companies, providing a path to going public with less regulatory scrutiny and more certainty over the valuation that will be attained and funds raised. Thiam, who is a Kering board member, is raising a $250 million SPAC to invest in financial services businesses. Kering is now run by Francois Pinault's son, Francois-Henri Pinault. REUTERS
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