Capital A Berhad, the holding company of AirAsia and airasia MOVE, has entered into a letter of intent to seek a public listing via a merger between special purpose acquisition company Aetherium Acquisition Corp and new company Capital A International.
The business combination would see Capital A International, an investment and strategic development company, become a stand-alone public company in the United States.
According to a release, Capital A International is seeking to generate revenue from AirAsia brand loyalty and aircraft leasing. The release said it will also “be involved in tactical acquisition, incubation and partnerships to provide platforms for entrepreneurs.”
The proposed business combination will have an equity value of $1 billion.
Tony Fernandes, CEO of Capital A Berhad, said, “This is a coming-of-age moment for Capital A, which has morphed from AirAsia into a low-cost, value driven aviation and travel services group in five entities, the first of which that’s coming to the public market would be Capital A International. We are taking the first step to venture out of our home ground, which is [the Association of Southeast Asian Nations], and exploring listing on the pinnacle of markets in terms of capital raising. We are confident that the exposure of the U.S. financial markets and Nasdaq listing would help us accelerate the delivery of our strategy as we improve access to capital, broaden our shareholder base and meaningfully raise our profile globally.
“Our proposed business combination with Aetherium serves as a testament to the growth opportunity ahead. The ASEAN region in recent years has emerged as one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest growing economic hubs. Yet there are limited vehicles for which global investors can participate in the vibrancy of this pivotal market. Leveraging the strength and reach of the AirAsia brand, Capital A International will offer an exceptional opportunity to harness the investment potential of the region.”
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Jonathan Chan, CEO of Aetherium Acquisition Corp, said, “AirAsia has had a transformative impact on the lives of tens of millions of people across Southeast Asia, making affordable air travel a reality. The AirAsia brand is associated with innovation, convenience, adventure and value. This new entity will present investors with the opportunity to tap into the growth of the ASEAN region with a high-quality profitable asset and exceptional management team. We look forward to finalizing the business combination agreement in the weeks to come.”
The letter of intent with Aetherium Acquisition Corp is subject to regulatory approvals and conditions from Bursa Securities, the Central Bank of Malaysia and other authorities.
Special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, enable companies to go public and raise capital through the creation of shell companies without having to jump through as many regulatory hoops.
In 2021 a number of travel companies including Sonder, Selina, Vacasa and Grab announced plans to go public via SPAC. In April of the same year, Goldman Sachs said SPACs could account for about a trillion dollars in deals in the next two years.
A year later, however, the deals were terminated for a number of proposed travel SPACs while others received a lackluster reception to their public debuts.