A smooth, steady start for American Express Global Business Travel during its stock market debut.

The world’s largest corporate travel agency listed on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday, under the ticket symbol GBTG, following a business combination deal with Apollo Strategic Growth Capital. The parties initially announced the combination on December 3, 2021.

Shares opened at $7.55 on its first day as a public company. They closed higher at $8.37 after its first day trading on Tuesday.

“We have a significant growth opportunity ahead of us,” said CEO Paul Abbott in a LinkedIn post Tuesday. “As a public company, we have the flexibility to realise Amex GBT’s full potential.”

It was only on May 27, the Friday before the Memorial weekend, that Amex GBT announced it would begin trading on Tuesday. That followed Apollo Strategic Growth Capital shareholders voting to approve its combination with Amex GBT days earlier, on May 25.

As part of its go-public merger, Amex GBT received $335 million from a PIPE, or private investment in public equity, deal with new investors including Zoom, Sabre and private equity group Ares Management.

They join existing backers American Express, Expedia and Certares. Only 15 percent of the company’s stock is expected to be owned by public shareholders.

Investors will be betting on the recovery of corporate travel, which despite rising air fares seems to be on track to exceed spending last seen in 2019 by the end of the year. In April, Amex GBT execs sought to assure investors that the pandemic was just a blip for corporate travel.

They may have just pulled it off.

“For far too long the darlings of travel, like Booking.com and Expedia, have been the focus. With Amex GBT using their SPAC to go public, it now brings corporate travel as a sector and a place to work to the forefront of people’s minds,” said Gavin Smith, director of Element Travel Technology. “It might even help bring those who left, back to the sector. Corporate travel now sits where it should always have done, side by side with leisure.”

However, one investor who wished to remain anonymous told Skift: “We ended up deciding to not participate since the valuation relative to some of the other things we are seeing in the market wasn’t as compelling. It’s a good business with nice tailwinds, it’s just there are more interesting things to be invested in right now.”

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Tags: amex gbt, business travel, corporate travel, spacs