Feb 1, 2021 - Economy & Business

New York private jet service Wheels Up to go public

Illustration of a paper airplane made of out of a dollar flying on a looping path

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Wheels Up, a New York-based private jet subscription service, agreed to go public at a $2.1 billion valuation, via a reverse merger with Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle Corp. (NYSE: ASPL), a SPAC formed by LVMH and L Catterton.

Why it matters: This is a reminder to not pay much heed to a SPAC's size when it comes to its potential targets. ASPL only raised $240 million in its IPO, representing 11.4% of the total deal value.

  • The remainder consists of a much larger PIPE ($550 million) and existing Wheels Up shareholders rolling over 100% of their equity (valued at a slight premium to where they last invested in mid-2019).

History: Wheels Up had raised around $770 million from firms like Fidelity, T. Rowe Price, Delta, Franklin Templeton, NEA and Rosecliff Ventures. Several of those firms also participated in the PIPE (private investment in public equity).

The bottom line: Private jet usage has been buoyed by the pandemic, as the wealthy seek to avoid the large crowds of commercial terminals and cabins.

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