Seeing Machines confirms auto spin-off by end of June

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In an exclusive interview today,  Seeing Machines’ CEO Ken Kroeger confirmed to me that the innovative developer of eye-tracking technology is on-track for the launch of an spin-off company by the end of June this year, raising between US$60-100m

“We’re trying to close the finance by mid-June. We’re expecting it may slip a little bit but we’re pretty far advanced and have made an offer to the CEO; we’re starting to structure an org chart and plan what the business looks like as it moves beyond this organisation.”

The new entity will employ around 70 people (some part-time), there are likely to be a total of 5 board members including the CEO, with one representative from Seeing Machines on the board.

Kroeger couldn’t reveal who the cornerstone investor is nor the exact percentage stake that Seeing Machines would hold, saying in today’s announcement only that it would retain a “significant equity stake” in the new company.

From my own research, I’d guess that the cornerstone investor, described as a “US-based investment firm with extensive experience in automotive technologies” in today’s announcement, is likely to be GM Ventures. As to the other investors, I’m less sure.

Still, Ken Kroeger confirmed that all will be revealed quite soon: “Within the next 4-6 weeks we should be able to start telling people who these organisations are, how much we own, how much we will own.”

There are two be 2 rounds of investment plus an employee share option scheme and he’s been looking at what the market cap table will look like through those different phases. The initial round of investment will be followed by one further investment 2 years down the line.

“I think we’ve shaped the investment strategy to put us in front of the sorts of organisations we would want as partners and that there is  an expectation that they have the same objectives. So we’ve been looking for people that are strategically aligned in order to make sure that this goes to plan,” he added.

Kroeger also confirmed that a lot of the recent selling has been by an Australian Superannuation fund (Dixons Advisory), an original investor in Seeing Machines’ IPO that until recently held an 8% stake. Apparently, holders had been advised to sell as the shares were converting from paper to electronic versions.

It certainly seems like an odd time to be selling out of a company making great strides in one of the hottest sectors in automotive.

As this is overhang is cleared, good news flow should propel Seeing Machines’ share price much higher over the next few months.

Incidentally, Kroeger revealed that the company, anxious to keep investors better informed, will also be launching a new investor-focused website in around 7 weeks.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines

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