Air Taxi Company Lilium With Backing From Big Tesla Investor To Go Public



Germany’s Lilium is the latest air taxi startup to go public through a merger with a “blank check” company.


Special purpose acquisition company, Qell Acquisition Corp. (QELL) announced plans Tuesday to take the Lilium public in a deal that values the combined company at $2.4 billion.

Proceeds of $830 million will include money from fund manager Baillie Gifford, which is one of the biggest investors in Tesla (TSLA).

The deal is expected to close in the second quarter, and shares will trade on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol LILM.

“Lilium has unique technology and one of the most accomplished engineering and commercial teams in electric aviation,” said Barry Engle, CEO of Qell and a former General Motors (GM) executive, in the release.

The company has a five-seat prototype and a seven-seat air taxi model, which will be the first to enter serial production. The Lilium Jet will have a range of more than 155 miles.

Lilium is going public as the air taxi space becomes more crowded. But unlike others focusing on intracity flights like a taxi, Lilium’s seven-seat vehicle will fly short hops between cities. The company plans to start service in Florida and Germany in 2024.

Qell Acquisition rose 2.6% to 10.18 on the stock market today.

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SPACs offer a way for private companies to go public without an IPO. Instead of selling stock, the private enterprise merges with a shell company that’s already public. SPACs have become popular recently after years of being shunned by the financial community.

Last month, SPAC Reinvent Technology Partners (RTP) announced it would take Joby Aviation public through a merger that will give the combined company a $6.6 billion valuation.

Late last year, Joby bought Uber‘s (UBER) air taxi business, which includes partners like Textron‘s (TXT) Bell, Brazil’s Embraer (ERJ) and Boeing‘s (BA) Aurora Flight Sciences.

Also last month, air taxi startup Archer secured an investment from United Airlines (UAL) after announcing plans to go public via a blank-check merger with Atlas Crest Investment (ACIC).

Follow Gillian Rich on Twitter for investing news and more.


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