Aviation

Textron Aviation customer Wheels Up completes capital raise

CEO and founder Kenny Dichter of Wheels Up, a New York-based private aviation membership company, takes delivery in late August of a Beechcraft King Air 350i, part of an order for 105 King Air 350is from Textron Aviation originally placed in 2013. Wheels Up said Monday it had completed a $115 million capital raise. (Aug. 28, 2015)
CEO and founder Kenny Dichter of Wheels Up, a New York-based private aviation membership company, takes delivery in late August of a Beechcraft King Air 350i, part of an order for 105 King Air 350is from Textron Aviation originally placed in 2013. Wheels Up said Monday it had completed a $115 million capital raise. (Aug. 28, 2015) The Wichita Eagle

Wheels Up, which has an order for 105 Wichita-built Beechcraft King Air 350is, has completed a $115 million capital raise that the privately held company said will allow it to expand its business in the U.S. and overseas.

The New York-based private aviation membership company said in a news release Monday that the capital raise was completed through financial institutions including funds and trusts managed by T. Rowe Price Associates, Fidelity Management and Research Co., and venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates.

“We believe Wheels Up has the rare combination of experienced entrepreneurs, business model innovation, and a strong financial model,” said Henry Ellenbogen, portfolio manager at T. Rowe Price. “Wheels Up has developed network density and provides real customer value. It has the potential to be a much larger company.”

Wheels Up also said the company’s valuation stands at more than $500 million.

The capital raise provides for further expansion of Wheels Up in the U.S., establishing a base in Europe and improving its technology.

Founder and CEO Kenny Dichter said Wheels Up planned an expansion to Europe during a speech in late August in Wichita, where he was taking delivery of the company’s 35th King Air 350i at the Textron Aviation East Campus.

In 2013 Textron Aviation and Wheels Up announced the order for the King Airs, which at the time amounted to $1.4 billion.

In 2014 the company also finalized a deal with Textron Aviation for 10 factory custom refurbished Cessna Citation Excel and XLS midsize business jets.

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