Ex-climate change secretary Rudd to join £250m London SPAC

Business

Amber Rudd, the former cabinet minister, is joining a new special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that will float in London and target a merger in the renewable energy sector.

Sky News has learnt that Ms Rudd, who served as secretary of state for energy and climate change between May 2015 and July 2016, is to become an adviser to Energy1, one of a hotly anticipated wave of new UK SPACs.

Banking sources said that Energy1 was being established by Sanjay Mehta, a start-up investor, and David Kotler, a former Lazard and Morgan Stanley investment banker who now runs Access Corporate Finance, an energy and natural resources advisory firm.

Philip Aiken, the chairman of London-listed Aveva and former chairman of Balfour Beatty, is expected to join Energy1’s board, while Sir Peter Gershon, the former National Grid chairman, is understood to be in talks to become an adviser to the SPAC alongside Ms Rudd, according to the sources.

The new SPAC will look to raise between £250m and £300m from investors, they added.

Citi and JP Morgan are understood to have been hired to advise on the listing, with an announcement targeted by the end of the year.

Ms Rudd’s involvement will again underline the extent to which senior former politicians are capitalising on their Westminster careers.

More on Amber Rudd

As well as serving as energy and climate change secretary, Ms Rudd spent just under two years as home secretary, while she stepped down from her final cabinet role as work and pensions secretary in September 2019.

Since stepping down as an MP before the 2019 general election, she has landed advisory roles with Darktrace, the cybersecurity company which has enjoyed one of London’s most successful initial public offerings (IPOs) this year, and Pinwheel, a green electricity start-up.

The roles were all approved by Whitehall’s Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA), but Ms Rudd’s new posts no longer require such approval owing to the length of time since she ceased being a government minister.

Britain's MP Amber Rudd is seen in Westminster, in London, Britain September 24, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Image:
Rudd stepped down as an MP before the 2019 general election. Pic: REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

This week, Ms Rudd quit Teneo Advisory, the public relations firm, to join FGH, the agency founded by her brother, Roland.

Her role at Energy1 adds substantial political experience to a vehicle harbouring ambitions of pioneering a new era of London-listed SPACs.

In July, the Financial Conduct Authority published new rules aimed at making the UK a more competitive destination for such “blank cheque” vehicles, which raise money from investors to acquire an unspecified target.

London has been left behind by New York, and to some extent by Amsterdam, because of the more liberal framework for enabling SPACs to list, although in the last year there have been signs of considerable indigestion in US markets, with many falling sharply within a year of their mergers being completed.

Nevertheless, bankers say there has been a spurt in the number of enquiries from SPAC “sponsors” wanting to list in London once the listing reforms are implemented.

Sky News reported on Friday that a pair of insurance executives plan to list Financials Acquisition Corp on the London Stock Exchange’s standard segment, and have received cornerstone commitments from investors including Qatar Insurance Company and Toscafund.

A swathe of renewable energy-focused SPACs has sought to take advantage of booming investor demand for companies which can play important roles in the energy transition.

Several leading British cleantech companies will be showcased at the forthcoming Global Investment Summit, while next month’s COP26 climate conference in Glasgow will be deluged by technology companies and investors.

Tony Hayward, the former BP chief executive, has listed a SPAC in Amsterdam called Energy Transition Partners to target a deal in the renewables or battery technology sector.

None of those involved in Energy1 could be reached for comment.

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