A SPAC (special purpose acquisition company), or blank-check firm, is a publicly listed shell company that raises funds to merge with a private company.

The listing, first announced last year, will allow the unit, Capital A International (CAPI), to access the world's most liquid capital markets, enhancing its international credibility and presence, Group Chief Executive Tony Fernandes said in a statement.

"We are optimistic about the potential for our brand business to expand well beyond our origins, particularly in markets where intellectual property and brand value are highly esteemed by consumers and investors," he said.

The transaction gives CAPI an estimated pro forma enterprise value of $1.15 billion, according to the statement.

The deal sees Capital A joining a growing number of Southeast Asian companies to list in the United States, filling a void left by Chinese companies that have paused U.S. IPOs amid political tensions with Washington.

CAPI, which will be led by Fernandes, hopes to leverage the expansion, management and licensing of the AirAsia brand through brand strategy, creative marketing and intellectual property development.

Fernandes said the listing of CAPI was initially to help Capital A resolve its classification on Malaysia's stock exchange as financially distressed.

However, he said the company then saw an opportunity to monetise its brand for the benefit of its AirAsia airline business.

"By having a separate platform for building other brands, AirAsia itself becomes bigger," Fernandes told Reuters in an interview on Monday ahead of the bourse announcement.

Both Capital A and long-haul unit AirAsia X Bhd have undergone restructuring after being classified as financially distressed due to travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

AirAsia X was removed from the classification in November, after undertaking measures to improve its financial position, and Capital A has said it hopes to present a regularisation plan to the bourse by June.

(Reporting by Danial Azhar; editing by Christina Fincher)

By Danial Azhar