Chinese investor chucks $50m into Martin Jetpack

New Zealand jetpack maker, Martin Aircraft Co, has secured more than twice the $25 million funding it has been seeking in a proposed initial public offering on the Australian Stock Exchange to commercialise its single person flying machines, with a commitment of A$50 million ($53 million) to fund a 30 month commercialisation plan, from Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed KuangChi Science.

 In return, KuangChi Science will become what is termed in a statement issued today as a “major” and “cornerstone” shareholder in Martin, without specifying percentages.  The A$25 million ASX IPO that is still on the books offered around 20 percent of the company and valued it at between A$97.6 million and A$112.6 million.

Martin’s mananging director and chief executive, Peter Coker, said in a statement that the company would lodge a new prospectus. Immediate attempts to contact Coker for further comment were unsuccessful. “The initial part of the investment will be a cornerstone shareholding in the MACL (Martin) IPO,” the statement said. “In addition, KuangChi Science will in due course” subscribe to a convertible notes issue and form a Chinese-based joint venture, using technology developed in Christchurch to crack the potentially huge Chinese market.  The jetpacks are being marketed for emergency first responder roles, among others.

Martin counts Jenny Morel’s No 8 Ventures among its shareholders.

The Christchurch-based company has been planning to issue between 20 million and 50 million shares at 50 Australian cents apiece and registered a prospectus in late October.

The jetpack can fly for 30 minutes with a 30 kilometre range at speeds of up to 74 km/hour, compared to its nearest competitor, with only 30 seconds of flight. Martin Aircraft wants to target the light helicopter market with its jetpack, dividing potential customers between government, for surveillance and remote operations uses; first responder, for emergency, security and rescue uses; and recreational, tourism and flight school uses. It also plans to develop the Martin Skyhook, a robotic jetpack for use in conflict and search and rescue operations.

The IPO documents detail a failed joint venture in China with the 27th Research Institute of China Electronic Technology Corporation to manufacture and sell jetpacks in China, Hong Kong and Macau, to be called the Haiying Sino-New Zealand Special Aircraft Manufacture Company. No 27 paid US$460,000 to set up the joint venture, but then backed out in 2013 and demanded repayment, which based on legal advice, Martin Jetpack refused.

Martin has received government funding to develop its prototypes and in September raised $6.5 million in an oversubscribed pre-IPO private placement, selling shares at 30 cents apiece to a mix of sophisticated and high net worth investors, taking its share register to 125, it said in a statement at the time. The offer was $1.5 million more than the original $5 million Martin Aircraft sought, of which $1 million came from an Asia-based venture fund. The investors were largely Australian, with several from the US, New Zealand, and Asia.

Disclosure: BusinessDesk receives funding from Callaghan Innovation to cover the commercialisation of innovation.


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