Electric air-taxi startups get a lift from flurry of SPAC deals

February 10, 2021
Archer unveiled a $1.5 billion pact with United Airlines to provide as many as 200 of its aircraft. (Courtesy of Archer Aviation)

Air-taxi startup Archer Aviation has announced plans to go public through a SPAC merger with Atlas Crest Investment Corp., following a similar deal by rival Wheels Up and reports that Joby Aviation is also in talks with blank-check companies.

The Archer deal is part of a growing trend, with 26 mobility tech providers announcing or completing mergers with special-purpose acquisition companies last year, according to a recent PitchBook report. 

In a related move, United Airlines has agreed to help Archer build its short-haul air taxis and plans to spend up to $1.5 billion to buy up to 200 of the finished aircraft.

The deal values the combined company at $3.8 billion, higher than the $2.1 billion valuation that Wheels Up claimed earlier this month.

Archer was valued at just $100 million last July, according to PitchBook data, and is backed by investors such as Greycroft, Prime Movers Lab and Gaingels.

Under the SPAC merger, Archer could receive $1.1 billion, including $600 million from a PIPE investment backed by United, Stellantis and others.

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