Blade Urban Air Mobility Inc, air mobility company, has agreed to merge with Experience Investment Corp, a blank check company, sponsored by KSL Capital Partners. The deal that implies a pro forma equity valuation of $825 million. Upon closing, the combined operating company is expected to continue to be listed on the NASDAQ. The transaction is expected to be completed in the first half of 2021.
New York, NY (December 15, 2020) – Blade Urban Air Mobility, Inc. (“Blade” or the “Company”), a technology-powered air mobility company, announced today that it will become publicly listed in order to bolster Blade’s growth trajectory within the rapidly growing urban air mobility market and to accelerate its transition from conventional aircraft to eVTOL. Currently, more people fly helicopters in and out of U.S. city centers via Blade than any other company in the world. Urban air mobility is expected to be a $125 billion market by 2025 and grow to $650 billion over the next decade, according to Morgan Stanley Equity Research.
The Company and Experience Investment Corp. (NASDAQ: EXPC and EXPCW), a NASDAQ listed special purpose acquisition company sponsored by an affiliate of KSL Capital Partners, signed a definitive business combination agreement pursuant to which Blade will merge into a subsidiary of Experience Investment Corp. (which will change its name to Blade Urban Air Mobility). Upon closing of the transaction, the combined operating company is expected to continue to be listed on NASDAQ.
Blade provides consumers with a cost effective and time efficient alternative to ground transportation for congested routes, predominantly within the Northeast United States and India.
The Company has developed exclusive passenger terminal infrastructure in key markets, providing a competitive advantage in locations that are geographically constrained from adding additional heliports. Additionally, leading brands partner with Blade to provide visibility of their products and services to the Company’s passengers, underscoring the brand recognition and reputation that Blade has developed.
Blade was specifically designed to be scalable and profitable using conventional helicopters today, while poised to seamlessly transition to eVTOL as soon as those aircraft are ready for public use, passing on lower operating costs to fliers and enabling a reduced noise footprint and zero carbon emissions for the communities the Company serves.
Blade operates in four key lines of business:
· Short Distance – Flights between 60 and 100 miles in distance, primarily servicing commuters for prices between $595 and $795 per seat (or $295 for monthly commuter pass holders).
· BLADE Airport – Flights between all New York area airports and dedicated Blade lounges in Manhattan’s heliports. Prices start at $195 per seat (or $95 per seat with the purchase of an annual Airport Pass).
· BLADE MediMobility – Blade is the largest transporter of human organs in the Northeast United States, reducing the costs and transport time for hospitals versus legacy competitors. This business is a critical part of the Company’s growth strategy as organ movements are expected to be one of the first uses of eVTOL, before flights for passengers.
· International Joint Ventures – As part of its expansion strategy, the Company forms joint ventures with local partners in key overseas markets to provide the technology, customer experience, infrastructure design, and employee training, that enables a scalable and consistent Blade experience. Blade’s first international joint venture launched helicopter services late last year in India flying between Mumbai, Pune, and Shirdi.
The Company expects to use proceeds from the transaction to fund expansion into new markets, including the Northeast Corridor and West Coast in the United States, as well as internationally in Asia. The Company will also pursue infrastructure acquisitions in these markets, resulting in improved unit economics for its current business while enabling the Company’s transition to eVTOL aircraft.
All leading aerospace OEMs, including Airbus, a Blade investor, have deployed billions in the development of eVTOL aircraft. This new aerospace technology offers significant advantages to conventional aircraft currently used by Blade. The Company’s management believes eVTOL’s combination of reduced noise, zero carbon footprint and enhanced safety will serve as a catalyst to developing new vertiport infrastructure (landing zones with passenger terminals) in cities across the globe.
Rob Wiesenthal, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Blade, commented, “Ground mobility has been radically transformed by software and battery technology, as evidenced by the rapid adoption of electric vehicles. The next battle is in the air. This transaction provides the capital for Blade to profitably expand its urban air mobility business using conventional rotorcraft today, while providing a seamless transition to eVTOL aircraft tomorrow.”
Eric Affeldt, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Experience Investment Corp., added, “Our deep investing expertise in aviation led us to evaluate dozens of potential opportunities, of which none proved as compelling an investment opportunity as Blade. We believe Blade has successfully leveraged its first-mover advantage in urban air mobility with proprietary customer-to-cockpit technology, strategic and exclusive passenger terminal infrastructure as well as a loyal customer base to catalyze growth in the industry. They are well-positioned to fortify their business growth through expansion to new markets, globally, as well as through investment in infrastructure to support new routes while accommodating the future requirements of eVTOL.
Additionally, KSL’s portfolio company, Ross Aviation, which operates 17 FBOs in North America, including in New York, Massachusetts, and California, may provide important partnership opportunities for Blade and Ross Aviation to accommodate eVTOL routes, maintenance and charging stations in key markets.”
Pursuant to the transaction, Experience Investment Corp., which currently holds approximately $275 million cash in trust, will combine with Blade at an estimated $825 million pro forma equity value. Assuming no redemptions by Experience Investment Corp. stockholders, Blade’s equityholders immediately prior to closing are expected to hold approximately 43.2% of the issued and outstanding shares of common stock of the combined company immediately following the closing of the business combination.
The combined company’s available cash will be funded through a combination of Experience Investment Corp.’s cash in trust and a $125 million fully committed common stock PIPE at $10.00 per share, including investment commitments from affiliates of Hedosophia, HG Vora Capital Management, KSL Capital Partners, and David Geffen, as well as original investors Barry Diller, David Zaslav and Robert W. Pittman.
The boards of directors of both Blade and Experience Investment Corp. have unanimously approved the proposed transaction. Completion of the proposed transaction is subject to approval of Experience Investment Corp. and Blade’s stockholders and other customary closing conditions, including a registration statement being declared effective by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The transaction is expected to be completed in the first half of 2021.
Additional information about the proposed transaction, including a copy of the merger agreement and investor presentation, will be provided in a Current Report on Form 8-K to be filed by Experience Investment Corp. today with the Securities and Exchange Commission and available at www.sec.gov.
Blade’s existing shareholder base is comprised of strategic business partners, institutional venture capital firms and leading private venture investors, including: Airbus, Lerer Hippeau, Raine Ventures, LionTree Ventures, Barry Diller (Chairman, IAC Inc.), David Zaslav (CEO of Discovery, Inc.) and Eric Schmidt (former CEO of Google). These existing shareholders will retain 100% of their equity in the combined company through the transaction.
Management and Board of Directors
Upon completion of the transaction, the combined company will continue to be led by Mr. Wiesenthal as Chief Executive Officer. The senior management team will also include Will Heyburn, Chief Financial Officer and Head of Corporate Development, Brandon Keene, Chief Technology Officer, and Melissa Tomkiel, General Counsel.
Upon completion of the transaction, the Board of Directors is expected to include:
· Eric Affeldt, Chief Executive Officer of Experience Investment Corp. and previously CEO of publicly-traded ClubCorp
· Jane Garvey, former administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and former Chairman of the Board of Directors of United Airlines Holdings, Inc.
· Kenneth Lerer, Managing Partner of Lerer Hippeau, Co-Founder of Huffington Post, and former Director of Viacom, Inc.
· Susan Lyne, Co-founder and General Partner of BBG Ventures and former President of ABC Entertainment Group, a division of the Walt Disney Company
· Ted Philip, Lead Independent Director of United Airlines Holdings, Inc. and Lead Independent Director of Hasbro, Inc.
· Rob Wiesenthal, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Blade; Former Chief Financial Officer of Sony Corp. of America, Head of Global Corporate Development, Sony Corporation, and Chief Operating Officer, Warner Music Group
· David Zaslav, Chief Executive Officer of Discovery, Inc. and Director of Sirius XM Holdings, Inc., Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., and Grupo Televisa, S.A.B.
Credit Suisse is serving as the exclusive financial and capital markets advisor to Blade. Deutsche Bank Securities is serving as lead capital markets and exclusive financial advisor to Experience Investment Corp., with Citibank and J.P. Morgan acting as joint capital markets advisors. Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank Securities are also acting as lead placement agents on the private offering, with Citibank and J.P. Morgan acting as joint placement agents. Proskauer Rose LLP is serving as legal advisor to Blade, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is serving as legal advisor to Experience Investment Corp.
Investor Conference Call
Blade and Experience Investment Corp. will host a joint investor conference call to discuss the business and the proposed transaction today, December 15th, at 9:00 AM ET.
To listen to the conference call via telephone, dial 1-877-407-9039 or 1-201-689-8470 (international callers/U.S. toll) and enter the conference ID number 13714323. To listen to the webcast, please click here. A replay of the call will be accessible at the webcast link.
For Blade investor relations website, visit www.flyblade.com/investors.
About Blade Urban Air Mobility
Blade is a technology-powered, global air mobility platform committed to reducing travel friction by providing cost-effective air transportation alternatives to some of the most congested ground routes in the U.S. and abroad.
For more information, visit www.flyblade.com.
About Experience Investment Corp.
Experience Investment Corp. is a special purpose acquisition company sponsored by an affiliate of KSL Capital Partners and formed for the purpose of effecting a merger, capital stock exchange, asset acquisition, stock purchase, reorganization or similar business combination with one or more businesses. The sponsor is an indirect portfolio company of KSL Capital Partners V, L.P. and its parallel funds and is controlled by KSL Capital Partners V GP, LLC.
About KSL Capital Partners
KSL Capital Partners, LLC is a private equity firm specializing in premier travel and leisure enterprises in five primary sectors: hospitality, recreation, clubs, real estate, and travel services. Since 2005, KSL has raised approximately $13 billion of capital across both debt and equity funds. For more information, please visit www.kslcapital.com.