Lilium looks to US$3.3 billion SPAC deal for U.S. flotation

©Lilium's 7-seater electric vertical take-off and landing jet

German startup Lilium, which specializes on electric-powered vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft for inter-city travel has announced it is to float on the U.S. stock market through a reverse merger with Quell Acquisition Corp, a blank-check acquisition company. The deal values the combined businesses at US$3.3 billion and the merger is similar to that of rival Joby, which has merged with a listed shell company to attract substantial capital beyond venture capital funding.

Lilium is confident that combining with Quell, which is headed up by former General Motors president Barry Engle, will see it meet its objective of becoming commercially operable 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 US$830 million, including US$380 million held in trust and proceeds from a US$450 million private placement. According to Reuters news agency, 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 US$2.4 billion, which works out at 0.7 times forecast revenue of US$3.3 billion and at 3.4 times forecast core profits of US$708 million in 2026, a company presentation said.

While much of the early prototyping focused on a five-seat fixed-wing aircraft, it will be a seven-seater Lilium Jet, which will have a 175-mph cruising speed and range of 155 miles that will go into production first. Lilium obtained the CRI-A01 certification basis last year from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and it is now looking to obtain the equivalent recognition from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

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