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American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) said on Friday it would merge with a blank-check firm backed by Apollo Global Management Inc to go public in a deal valued at around $5.3-billion.

The deal with Apollo Strategic Growth Capital (ASGC) will deliver gross proceeds of up to $1.2-billion, including a $335-million private investment in public equity, or PIPE.

Investors in the PIPE included investment manager Ares Management Corp, travel technology company Sabre Corp and Zoom Video Communications Inc.

The merger comes at a time when business travel is recovering from a pandemic-induced slump, in a boost for companies like AmEx GBT that help corporate employees with their travel arrangements.

AmEx GBT was a wholly-owned unit of American Express Co until 2014, when the payments processor sold half its stake to a consortium led by investment firm Certares LP.

Singapore sovereign wealth fund, GIC, and the Carlyle Group were looking to purchase a 20 per cent stake in the company in late 2019 but pulled out of the in May last year as the COVID-19 crisis dented AmEx GBT’s business.

After the merger, the combined company will be renamed Global Business Travel, but it will continue to do business under the AmEx GBT brand name.

The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2022, after which Global Business Travel will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “GBTG.”

Special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), or blank-cheque firms, are publicly listed shell companies that raise funds with the intention of merging with a private entity, allowing firms to go public while sidestepping a traditional initial public offering.

Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley advised GBT on the deal, while Evercore and Houlihan Lokey advised ASGC.

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