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March 31, 2021

German air shuttle startup Lilium said on Tuesday it would float on the U.S. stock market via a reverse merger with Qell Acquisition Corp, a blank-cheque acquisition company, in a deal valuing the combined business at $3.3 billion.

Munich-based Lilium is competing with other aviation companies to deploy battery-powered aircraft that can take off and land vertically, offering a new way for travellers to beat traffic and hop between cities.

It joins U.S. rival Joby in merging with a listed shell company to attract capital at multi-billion-dollar valuations, on top of hefty funding already raised from venture capital backers.

Lilium said the combination with Qell, led by Barry Engle, former president of General Motors North America, would support its objective of launching commercial operations in 2024.

“In Qell, we have found a partner who shares our ambition for sustainable mobility and brings tremendous experience in running mobility and hardware businesses,” Daniel Wiegand, CEO and co-founder of Lilium, said in a statement.

Total gross proceeds are expected to be $830 million, including $380 million held in trust and proceeds from a $450 million private placement.

Investors in the placement include fund manager Baillie Gifford, funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, Tencent, Ferrovial, LGT, Palantir, Atomico, FII Institute and private funds affiliated with PIMCO.

The transaction implies fully diluted pro forma enterprise value of $2.4 billion, which works out at 0.7 times forecast revenue of $3.3 billion and at 3.4 times forecast core profits of $708 million in 2026, a company presentation said.