The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Lilium and Archer Head to Wall Street for Share Flotations

Two more eVTOL aircraft start-ups, Lilium and Archer, this week started their new lives as public companies, with share flotations on Wall Street. Both stock offerings followed the closing of their mergers with special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), respectively Qell and Atlas Crest, but the deals saw marked differences in the amount of capital raised to support ambitious plans to bring aircraft to market by 2024.

Lilium completed its “business combination” with Qell yesterday and its Class A shares and redeemable warrants started trading on the Nasdaq exchange on September 15 (under the respective tickers LILM and LILMW). Archer’s stock and warrants are set to start trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on September 17 (ARCH and ARCH WS), with its merger set to close on September 16.

With as many as 65 percent of Qell shareholders having opted to exercise stock redemption rights, the gross proceeds from Lilium’s transaction were assessed at $584 million, which is almost 30 percent less than the $830 million projection made by the German company when it announced the merger plan in March. The company said the redemption rate reflected “the current SPAC market environment” as it seemingly tried to downplay assumptions that investor interest in the advanced air mobility sector might be waning.

"We see Lilium as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will be at the forefront of a whole new industry," said Qell CEO and co-founder Barry Engle. "Lilium has the capacity to revolutionize regional travel, saving people hours so they can quickly travel from city to city."

Archer said it expects to pocket $847.6 million in gross proceeds, with 48.5 percent of shareholders having exercised redemption rights in its merger with Atlas. That is 23 percent less than the $1.1 billion it expected to raise when it announced equity flotation plans in February. The proceeds include $600 million from a public investment in private equity (PIPE) commitment from backers including United Airlines and automotive giant Stellantis, which is also its manufacturing partner.

On July 29, Archer and Atlas announced a 38 percent reduction in the pro forma enterprise valuation for their combined company from $2.7 billion to $1.7 billion. They said the revision was made to support, "long term value creation for all shareholders."

The new transaction terms adjust the pro forma enterprise value of Archer from $2.7 billion to $1.7 billion, a 38% reduction. As previously stated, the combined company is expected to receive approximately $1.1 billion of gross proceeds from a fully committed common stock PIPE offering of $600 million, along with approximately $500 million cash held in trust,

Just over a month ago, on August 10, rival eVTOL start-up Joby Aviation raised $1.6 billion when it went public on the NYSE, and this was exactly the amount it had projected when announcing the planned merger with Reinvent Technology Partners in February. In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Reinvent confirmed that some 63 percent of its shareholders redeemed their shares prior to the merger closing. Having floated at $10 per share, Joby’s stock has peaked at over $13 before softening somewhat to trade at around $8 this week.

Meanwhile, UK-based eVTOL developer Vertical Aerospace is awaiting confirmation of its plans to merge with Broadstone Acquisition Corp. The subsequent NYSE flotation (under the ticker EVTL), which the company anticipates before the end of this year, is expected to yield gross proceeds of $394 million.

In December 2019, China-based eVTOL developer EHang went public with a $100 million Nasdaq initial public offering. This transaction did not involve a SPAC merger.

This story was revised on September 16 to add information about stock redemptions by Reinvent shareholders and the reduction in pro forma enterprise valuation by Atlas and Archer.