Ex-MP Berger gets on board Cazoo ahead of $7bn US merger

Monday 3rd May 2021 17:15 BST

Sky News has learnt that Luciana Berger, who spent nearly a decade representing Labour and then the Liberal Democrats as MP for Liverpool Wavertree, will be named on Tuesday as a non-executive director of Cazoo.

Sources said that Ms Berger, who will chair the company's environmental, social and governance (ESG) committee, would become the third prominent female director to be appointed in as many weeks.

The former MP will join Anne Wojcicki, the founder of genetic testing business 23andMe, and Moni Mannings, who sits on the boards of easyJet and Hargreaves Lansdown, as a Cazoo director.

Ms Berger's appointment will come a year after she joined Edelman, the advisory firm, as managing director of advocacy and public affairs for its UK operations.

Shares in Cazoo are expected to begin trading in July following the completion of the company's merger with Ajax I, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) set up by the hedge fund tycoon Daniel Och.

The £5bn merger, engineered by Cazoo founder Alex Chesterman, represented a stunning valuation for a company in operation for barely a year.

Cazoo's board also includes Lord Rothermere, the executive chairman of Daily Mail and General Trust, one of the car retailer's earliest investors.

One investor described the line-up of directors as "impressive", adding that the current of scrutiny of SPAC-acquired companies meant there would be an intensive focus on how their boards discharged their corporate governance duties.

Cazoo, which sponsors Aston Villa and Everton, the Premier League football clubs, as well as the England and Wales Cricket Board's new Hundred format, sold more than 20,000 vehicles during its first year of operation.

The company says it aims to make buying a car "no different to any other product online today, where consumers can simply and seamlessly purchase, finance or subscribe to a car entirely online for either delivery or collection in as little as 72 hours".

Announced in March, Cazoo's merger with Ajax I was among the most prominent SPAC deals to date involving a British-based business.

Prior to the deal, the company had already raised £450m from an array of blue-chip investors - a staggering sum for a British start-up founded just two years ago - such as D1 Capital Partners, Fidelity and General Catalyst.

Mr Chesterman will see his roughly-30% holding in the company worth about £1.5bn, while the publisher of the Daily Mail would also hold a 20% stake worth about £1bn.

The Cazoo founder said taking the company public in New York made more sense than listing it in London, where, he said, stock market investors, are sceptical of loss-making but fast-growing technology companies.

Cazoo declined to comment on Ms Berger's appointment on Monday.

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