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Wheels Up to go public via merger with SPAC in $2.1 bln deal

Feb 1 (Reuters) - Wheels Up Partners Holdings LLC said on Monday it had agreed to go public through a merger with blank-check firm Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle Corp, valuing the private jet charter company at $2.1 billion.

The New York-based company is set to receive $790 million in gross proceeds on the transaction, including $550 million from investors such as T. Rowe Price, Fidelity and Franklin Advisors.

Reuters, citing sources, first reported on Jan. 25 that Wheels Up was in talks go public through a merger with Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle at a $2 billion valuation.

Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) led by LVMH executive and veteran private equity investor Ravi Thakran, raised $225 million in an initial public offering (IPO) last year. (bit.ly/2Yd7yUv)

A SPAC, or a blank-check firm, is a shell company that uses proceeds from an initial public offering to take a private firm public.

Wheels Up’s merger with Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle is the latest SPAC deal in the aviation sector. Reuters reported on Jan. 21 that air taxi start-up Joby Aero Inc is exploring a deal to go public through a merger with a blank-check firm.

Founded in 2013, Wheels Up offers its customers a three-tier membership program with initiation fees ranging from $2,995 to$29,500, its website showed. The company offers two kinds of aircraft fleets, program and executive, for its customers to rent.

Wheels up will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange after the merger and will trade under the new ticker symbol “UP”. (Reporting by Sohini Podder in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)

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