Wheels Up going public with Aspiration Consumer Lifestyle SPAC
Wheels Up has agreed to merge with a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC), valuing the company at $2.1bn. The firm will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker UP.
“We are excited about crossing this milestone and our new partnership with Aspirational. We believe this will allow us to actualise our founding goal of democratising private aviation, through our unique membership model, suite of products and benefits and by bringing the shared economy to private aviation through our Wheels Up app,” said Kenny Dichter, founder and CEO of Wheels Up. “We are looking forward to joining forces with the Aspirational team as we continue to accelerate our global growth and expansion.”
Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle floated in September 2020. It was sponsored by L Capital a joint venture between LMVH, the luxury brands company owned by Bernard Arnault and private equity firm Catterton.
The SPAC is headed by Ravi Thakran, chairman and CEO, Mark Bedingham, vice chairman and Lisa Myers, President. Thakran and Bedingham have previously specialised in the Asian luxury goods market.
Wheels Up says that the transaction will give the company $750m in cash.
The SPAC raised $240m when it floated. A group of investors including T. Rowe Price, Fidelity, Franklin Advisors, Durable Capital, HG Vora Capital Management, Third Point, Luxor Capital and Monashee have agreed to provide a further $550m private investment in public equity (PIPE). All the existing shareholders are also rolling their existing investment into the new merged company.
When the deal closes, existing investors will own 68.9% of the company and the PIPE investors 20.1%. The SPAC’s shareholders will own 8.8% and the SPAC’s sponsors 2.2%.
The company’s current management team will continue to lead Wheels Up. Thakran will join the combined company’s board.
“When we founded Aspirational, Wheels Up was exactly the kind of company we wanted to partner with. Kenny and his world-class team have created a truly iconic brand built upon years of exceptional, personalised customer experiences,” said Thakran. “They are a clear leader and innovator in the space and we look forward to working together to introduce Wheels Up to the global stage. We see many opportunities to leverage our experience and relationships.”
Connaught and Credit Suisse were financial advisers to Aspirational. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom advised the SPAC. Whilst Wheels Up was advised by Goldman Sachs, Jefferies and Morgan Stanley. Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer was legal advisor to Wheels Up.