AEye, global leader in active, high-performance LiDAR solutions, to go public through merger with CF Finance Acquisition III

  • AEye’s proprietary active-sensing, intelligent LiDAR technology delivers industry performance that solves the most difficult challenges in delivering partial or full autonomy
  • Validated by key partnerships with premier Tier 2 and Tier 1 automotive suppliers that enable a capital light, high growth business model for volume production
  • Transaction values AEye at a pro-forma enterprise value of $2.0 billion and delivers up to $455 million of gross proceeds to fully fund the company through profitability
  • Proceeds include up to $230 million in trust from CF Finance Acquisition III, and $225 million in cash from a fully subscribed PIPE offering anchored by top tier institutional and strategic investors GM Ventures, Subaru-SBI, Intel Capital, Hella Ventures, Taiwania Capital, and other undisclosed investors to be announced
  • Other AEye investors include Kleiner Perkins, Continental AG, LG Electronics, SK Hynix, Pegasus Ventures (Aisin), and Airbus Ventures

AEye, the global player in active, high-performance LiDAR solutions, and CF Finance Acquisition III (“CF III”), a special purpose acquisition company sponsored by Cantor Fitzgerald, announced they have entered into a definitive merger agreement. The combined company will be called AEye Holdings, and is expected to be publicly listed on following the close of the transaction.

AEye’s proprietary active sensing, intelligent LiDAR delivers industry performance that addresses the most difficult challenges facing autonomous driving. While traditional sensing systems passively collect data, AEye’s active LiDAR leverages principles from automated targeting systems and biomimicry to scan everything while intelligently focusing on what matters in order to enable safer, smarter, and faster decisions in complex scenarios. As a result, AEye’s active LiDAR uniquely enables higher levels of autonomous functionality (SAE L2-L5) at the optimal performance, power, and price. The proposed transaction will expand AEye’s technology leadership and accelerate the adoption of its active, high-performance LiDAR across key markets.

Active LiDAR is a game changing technology with the potential to transform many industries,” said Blair LaCorte, CEO of AEye. “With our unique modular system design and go-to-market strategy, we can deliver solutions via technology licensing, custom component bundling, or an integrated hardware and software system. Our established partnerships with Tier 1 automotive suppliers (such as Continental) strongly position us to deliver Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) solutions that will increase vehicle safety and enable new performance features, such as highway autopilot. Additionally, our contract manufacturing and system integrator partners can customize our platform to meet the specific needs of various markets, including trucking, mining, Intelligent Traffic Systems and railways.”

Howard Lutnick, Chairman and CEO of CF III and Chairman and CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, stated, “AEye’s capital light, high margin channel business model, which leverages outsourced manufacturing, makes the company well positioned for commercial success across automotive, industrial and mobility markets. We are thrilled to partner with the company’s visionary team, who have a demonstrated track record as public company executives, and who have built an enterprise-scale technology business.”

AEye was founded in 2013 by Luis Dussan to create low-cost and high-performance artificial intelligence (AI)-driven sensing systems that exceed the capabilities of the human eye and visual cortex. Dussan’s mission was to design deterministic artificial intelligence sensing systems that adhere to automotive functional safety standards. Prior to founding AEye, Dussan was at Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, where he was responsible for designing mission-critical targeting systems for fighter jets and ground troops that uniquely search, acquire, and track threats. At AEye, Dussan applied the same principles to create the highest performing active sensing and perception systems used to address the most challenging situations, ensuring the highest levels of safety for autonomous driving.

AEye’s intelligent Detection and Ranging platform (iDAR™) leverages an agile MEMS-based scanner, 1550nm laser, and bistatic advanced receiver with embedded deterministic artificial intelligence to deliver high-performance at a low cost. iDAR’s modular, software configurable platform leverages intelligence at the edge to achieve exceptional range, resolution, and frame rate, and through its proprietary active scanning, the ability to capture intraframe radial and lateral velocity. Complementing other sensors like RADAR and cameras, iDAR assists AEye and its partners in delivering a complete sensor suite to address any use case in automotive, industrial and mobility markets. iDAR technology is based on a large and diverse patent portfolio of over 80 patents with more than 3000 claims.

Following completion of the transaction, AEye will retain its experienced management team, with Blair LaCorte as CEO, Luis Dussan as CTO and Bob Brown as CFO.

Transaction Details

The Board of Directors of each of AEye and CF III have unanimously approved the transaction. The transaction will require the approval of the stockholders of CF III and AEye, and is subject to other customary closing conditions, including the receipt of certain regulatory approvals. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021.

Assuming no redemptions by CF III stockholders, the transaction is expected to deliver up to $455 million of gross proceeds, including the contribution of up to $230 million of cash held in CF III’s trust account. The transaction is further supported by a $225 million fully-committed PIPE anchored by strategic and institutional investors including GM Ventures, Subaru-SBI, Intel Capital, Hella Ventures, Taiwania Capital, and other undisclosed investors to be announced.

All cash remaining in CF III at the closing of the transaction after paying off transaction expenses and CF III liabilities is expected to be used to retire debt and to add cash to AEye’s balance sheet for working capital, growth capex and other general corporate purposes.

AEye shareholders will retain 100% of their equity holdings in the combined company.

Advisors

Guggenheim Securities is serving as financial advisor and capital markets advisor to AEye. DLA Piper (US) is serving as legal advisor to AEye. Financial Profiles is serving as investor relations advisor for AEye.

Cantor Fitzgerald is serving as financial and capital markets advisor to CF III. Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP and Ellenoff Grossman & Schole are serving as legal advisors to CF III.

Cantor Fitzgerald. is serving as placement agent to CF III for the PIPE offering.

Source: https://www.aeye.ai/

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