May 26, 2023
Aviation Firm Surf Air Is Working With Morgan Stanley on Direct Listing
(Bloomberg) -- Surf Air Mobility Corp., an electric aviation and regional air travel company, is working with Morgan Stanley and is set to move ahead with its plans to go public through a direct listing, according to people familiar with the matter.
The company plans to file publicly as soon as next week for the listing and begin trading this summer, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information was still private.
Surf Air, based in the Los Angeles area, said last year that it had confidentially submitted a draft with US regulators in the wake of a collapsed blank-check merger that would have taken it public at a $1.42 billion valuation. Representatives for Surf Air and Morgan Stanley declined to comment on its current plans, which could still change.
In a direct listing, companies typically don’t raise fresh capital and existing investors can usually begin selling shares on the first day of trading without the lockup period restrictions of an IPO. Direct listings also can save on banking fees and the time spent on an investor roadshow.
Despite widespread enthusiasm, direct listings have been used by only a handful of well-known companies such as Spotify Technology SA, Slack Technologies Inc. and Coinbase Global Inc. Amid the past year’s dearth of new equity offerings, Nasdaq Inc. and New York Stock Exchange won approval in December to loosen restrictions on capital raises in direct listings, a move that will make them more competitive with IPOs as the market picks up.
The company had revenue of more than $100 million last year and more than 500,000 customers, one of the people said.
In 2020, the membership-based private plane operator secured a funding commitment from Global Emerging Markets Group that it could tap when it went public.
Last year, Surf Air agreed to acquire commuter carrier Southern Airways Corp. and its fleet of almost 40 Cessna Grand Caravans. Surf Air said at the time that it had entered a contract with two companies, magniX and AeroTec, to develop hybrid and fully electric power trains for new and existing Grand Caravans.
(Updates with revenue in sixth paragraph.)
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