Qell Acquisition Corp’s $3.3bn Acquisition of Lilium

By James Muse, Omar Santos, Sean Salamante (Columbia University), Lolade Aluko, Jonathan Fuchs, Eden Yang (London School of Economics)


Overview of the deal

Acquirer: Qell Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ: QELLU)

Target: Lilium

Total Transaction Size: $3.3 billion

Announce Date: 30 March 2021

Expected Close date: Q2 2021

Target Advisor: Citi

Acquirer Advisors: JP Morgan and Barclays

Led by the former president of General Motors North America, Barry Engle, special purpose acquisition company Qell Acquisition Corp. has agreed to a merger with eVTOL (electric airplane capable of vertical take-off and landing) company Lilium at a pro-forma enterprise value of $2.4 billion and an implied pro forma equity valuation of $3.3 billion. Lilium expects to receive $380 million in cash and $450 million through the PIPE investment, which raised capital from BlackRock, Tencent, LGT, Palantir, and PIMCO. The PIPE investment will be used to accelerate commercial launch operations, which consists of a production facility in Germany and getting type certification for their eVTOL jets. Lilium was established in 2015 by leaders in the aerospace industry from Airbus, Raytheon, MIT, and BAE Systems. Lilium is considered the leader in e-VTOL. The standard VTOL Jet market is dominated by Boeing and Lockheed Martin, and the jets are powered by gasoline-dependent rotors. Lilium’s proprietary design iterates upon the traditional jet engine through a single "stage" rotor system driven by an electric motor with zero emissions. Similar to EV, electric jet engines provide significant advantages in noise and dynamic efficiency. Many compare Lilium to a combination of Uber and Tesla since eVTOLs have the capability to operate as “flying taxis” however, the company’s main focus is on flights across states rather than within. Lilium’s flagship vehicle, the “7-Seater Jet”, has a projected cruise speed of 175 mph at 10,000 feet and a range of 155+ miles; all commercial operations are expected to fully launch in 2024. Barry Engle envisions Lilium as “the leader in regional electric air mobility”. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021 and trade on the Nasdaq Exchange under the ticker symbol “LILM”.

(Source: Lilium News Release)

“This is going to give us both a lot of expertise and operational knowledge from Barry and his team, but also the financing to achieve the type of certification and market entry with our airplane” - Lilium CEO Daniel Wiegand

(Source: CNBC)

Company Details: (Acquirer - Qell Acquisition Corp.)

Qell Acquisition Corp. is a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that was founded by Barry Engle (CEO) and Sam Gabbita (CFO) in 2020. Prior to founding Qell, Engle held several senior executive roles at General Motors Company including President of GM North America and Gabbita led the OGCI Climate Investments’ San Francisco office. Qell was founded to identify and partner with companies that are in their target markets of Next-Generation Mobility, Transportation, and Sustainable Industrial Technology, have enterprise values above $1 billion, and are technology-oriented.

(Source: Qell Acquisition Corp. Website)

Founded in 2020, headquartered in San Francisco, CA (USA)

CEO: Barry Engle

Number of employees: NA

Market Cap: $430M (as of 04/08/2021)

EV: $428M (as of 04/08/2021)

LTM Revenue: N/A


LTM EV/Revenue: N/A


(Source: FactSet)

Company Details: (Target - Lilium GmbH)

Lilium GmbH is a German aerospace company attempting to revolutionise personal regional mobility through the Lilium Jet. The Lilium Jet is a 100% electrical vertical take-off and landing vehicle (VTOL) that can carry up to 7 people. The company is planning to launch a commercial operation in 2024. Some of the main financiers of the company include the European Space Agency (ESA), Frank Thelen’s Freigeist Capital, and Tencent.

Founded in 2015, headquartered in Wessling, Bavaria (Germany)

CEO: Daniel Wiegand

Number of employees: 600