German air taxi startup Lilium raises $240m led by return backer Tencent

German air taxi startup Lilium said on Monday it had raised $240 million in additional funding from existing backers led by China’s Tencent, completing the investment round at a higher valuation despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The funding brings to more than $340 million the amount raised by Munich-based Lilium, which is developing an all-electric, vertical take-off and landing aircraft that it hopes to launch and operate from 2025.

The funds will be used for further development of the five-seater Lilium Jet, which sports a fixed-wing design and is powered by 36 electric motors, and to ready serial production at its newly completed manufacturing facilities.

A prototype achieved speeds in excess of 100 km/h (62 mph), the company said in October. Once in service, the Lilium Jet would be able to complete an intercity “hop” of 300 km in one hour.

Lilium has been dogged by reports of problems, including a battery fire that destroyed one of its two prototypes, while experts have questioned the viability of running services that would compete with intercity flights or train and car trips.

Asked whether the fire had deterred investors, CEO Daniel Wiegand said not: “They know that the fire was annoying, but not a catastrophe. Our investors have given us a strong vote of confidence,” he told business daily Handelsblatt.

Lilium, founded by Wiegand in 2015 with two friends from the Technical University of Munich, is valued under the funding round at between $750 million and $1 billion, according to a source familiar with the matter.

David Wallerstein, chief exploration officer at Tencent, said in a statement: “At Tencent, we’re committed to supporting technologies that we believe have the potential to tackle the greatest challenges facing our world.”

Tencent was joined by existing investors Atomico, Freigeist and LGT in the funding round.

Reuters

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.