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On Feb. 1, Wheels Up Partners Holdings LLC, a leading brand in private aviation, entered into a definitive agreement to become publicly-traded via a merger with special purpose acquisition company, Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle Corp., in a transaction that values Wheels Up at an enterprise value of $2.1 billion.
Aspirational was formed and is led by a partnership of experienced consumer investors, including Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ravi Thakran, private equity veteran and former Group Chairman of LVMH Asia. Additionally, L Catterton, the largest global consumer-focused private equity firm, is a minority shareholder.
Upon closing of the transaction, Wheels Up will be the first private aviation platform to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: UP).
Wheels Up connects flyers to private aircraft —and to one another— delivering exceptional, personalized experiences. Its technology-enabled marketplace will allow Wheels Up to do so at global scale, and democratize the private aviation industry, expanding the addressable market and making private aviation accessible to millions of consumers.
Wheels Up was founded in 2013 by renowned entrepreneur Kenny Dichter. With Wheels Up, Dichter has pioneered the next evolution of private aviation, starting with an industry-first membership model and an exclusive fleet of King Air 350i aircraft. Several strategic acquisitions and an exclusive co-marketing partnership with Delta Air Lines have expanded Wheels Up’s operational and technological footprint, creating the evolutionary marketplace to transform private aviation and deliver world-class experiences to consumers.
“We are excited about crossing this milestone and our new partnership with Aspirational,” said Dichter, Wheels Up Founder and CEO. “We believe this will allow us to actualize our founding goal of democratizing 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. We are looking forward to joining forces with the Aspirational team as we continue to accelerate our global growth and expansion.”
Ravi Thakran, Chairman & CEO of Aspirational, added: “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, personalized customer experiences. 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 to partner with other aspirational and luxury brands and to expand to international markets.”
The transaction, which has been unanimously approved by Aspirational’s Board of Directors and the independent directors of Wheels Up’s Board of Directors, is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021, and is subject to approval by Aspirational and Wheels Up’s respective shareholders and other customary closing conditions, including any applicable regulatory approvals.
The transaction is expected to deliver up to $790 million of gross proceeds to the combined company, including the contribution of up to $240 million of cash held in Aspirational’s trust account from its initial public offering in September 2020. The combination is further supported by a $550 million PIPE at $10.00 per share, including commitments from T. Rowe Price, Fidelity, Franklin Advisors, Durable Capital, HG Vora Capital Management, Third Point, Luxor Capital, and Monashee, among others. Existing Wheels Up shareholders will roll 100 percent of their equity into the new company.
Upon completion of the transaction, Wheels Up expects to have up to $750 million in cash on its balance sheet to fund operations and support new and existing business initiatives.
This press release was prepared and distributed by Wheels Up.