Wheels Up soon will be a publicly-traded company on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) thanks to a definitive agreement announced this morning with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle Corp. The transaction, which is expected to close in the second quarter, values the private aviation firm at $2.1 billion.
When completed, the transaction will provide Wheels Up with $750 million in cash to fund operations and support new and existing business initiatives. Wheels Up will trade as “UP” on the NYSE.
“We believe this will allow us to realize our founding goal of democratizing private aviation, through our membership model, suite of products and benefits, and by bringing the shared economy to private aviation through our app,” said Wheels Up founder and CEO Kenny Dichter.
He said the deal will help bring more capital for further growth at Wheels Up, which has already acquired four private aviation operators and services, including charter operator Mountain Aviation, over the past 18 months. Hinting at more to come, Dichter told AIN, “We’re just getting started.”
Aspirational was formed and is led by experienced consumer investors, including chairman and CEO Ravi Thakran, a private-equity veteran and former group chairman of LVMH Asia. In addition, L Catterton, the largest global consumer-focused private equity firm, will be a minority shareholder of Wheels Up.
SPACs—commonly known as “blank check” companies—can speed up the initial public offering (IPO) process from up to two years to about four months.