Shareholders Approve Lilium Merger

Deal clears the way for the Germany-based company to begin trading on Nasdaq.

Air taxi developer Lilium will officially launch on the Nasdaq stock exchange on September 15, the company said, after shareholders of special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Qell Acquisition Group approved a merger Friday.

“We are thrilled that Qell shareholders have chosen to support our vision to accelerate the decarbonisation of air travel and will join Lilium on the next phase of our journey,” said Lilium co-founder and CEO Daniel Wiegand in a statement. It’s the latest development in the growing eVTOL industry, aimed at providing convenient, fast, and environmentally friendly transportation between regional cities and over traffic-congested urban areas.

The deal means Germany-based Lilium will begin trading as “LILM.” More than 98% of all votes cast were in favor of the merger, according to the statement. The transaction values the combined company at about $3.3 billion pro forma equity value at the $10.00 per share PIPE (private investment in public equity) price, the statement said. The company is expected to receive approximately $584 million in proceeds. The company said 65 percent of Qell shareholders chose to redeem their shares.

Who Are Qell’s Investors?

Qell, which targets markets across next-generation mobility, transportation, and sustainable industrial technology, was founded last year by CEO and Director Barry Engle along with Director Sam Gabbita. It’s based in Redwood City, California.

JP Morgan Securities LLC and Barclays Capital Inc. acted as financial and capital markets advisers to Qell; Citi acted as exclusive financial adviser to Lilium.

Airbus CEO Thomas Enders will be chairman of the new company’s board. He will be joined by:

  • Gabrielle Toledano, chief operating officer at Keystone Strategy
  • Henri Courpron, founder and chairman of Plane View Partners and former CEO of International Lease Finance Corporation and Airbus North America
  • David Neeleman, chairman of Brazil-based Azul Brazilian Airlines

In August, Lilium announced plans for a $1 billion deal and strategic alliance with Azul, “to transform high-speed regional travel in Brazil.”

The deal with Qell makes Lilium the third developer in the vertical takeoff and landing industry to go public in recent weeks.

On Aug. 11, eVTOL competitor Joby listed on the NYSE after a SPAC deal with Reinvent Technology Partners. And Archer Aviation is expected to go public next week in a merger with Atlas Crest Investment Corp. SPACs have gained popularity as a way for companies to secure funding by allowing them to offer stocks without going through the traditional, and cumbersome, process of becoming a publicly traded company.

Details About the Aircraft

Lilium was founded in 2015 by four graduates of the Technical University of Munich who were seeking to design a more efficient ducted-fan powered air taxi than competing airframes, eliminating the now-traditional use of quad-copter technology.

Since its initial launch, the company has gone through several prototypes. A five-seater demonstrator reportedly was lost in a ground fire in early 2020. Non-crewed flight tests resumed in July, according to a recent Reddit ”Ask Me Anything.”

A newer seven-seater iteration that can carry a pilot and up to six passengers is expected to begin crewed testing at the end of 2022, officials said.

In 2018, Lilian applied concurrently for EASA and FAA type certification for the seven-seater. You can watch a test flight of Lilium’s eVTOL demonstrator.

The aircraft’s motors are designed to rotate to vector thrust for vertical flight or horizontal flight. Multiple electric motors are embedded in rows on the forward canard and trailing edges of the 46-foot main wing, for a total of 36 ducted fans. The seven-seater aircraft is expected to measure 28 feet long. It’s designed to cruise at 10,000 feet at about 150 knots (175 mph) with a range of about 130 nm (150 miles), allowing for quick hops.

The company is aiming for a commercial launch in 2024, possibly in Florida, including a handful of vertiports. Lilium officials have said they’re also looking at potential U.S. markets in California, Texas, and the Northeast. Lilium officials have said they’re also considering the possibility of a cargo variant of the aircraft.

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