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$777,000 flying motorcycle maker prepares for IPO in Japan

A former Merrill Lynch derivatives trader with a passion for Star Wars is preparing to take his flying motorcycle startup public Japan.

Tokyo-based ALI Technologies was founded as a drone maker by Shuhei Komatsu in 2016 before moving on to more ambitious ventures, opening Xturismo Limited bicycles for sale in October. 10. According to the company, the $777,000 single-person transport can reach a top speed of 80kmh (50mph) and travel up to 40 minutes per charge, according to the company. So far, the bike has been mainly seen as a curio at public events like the recent baseball game, but ALI President Daisuke Katano said there is strong interest in it from countries around the world. Middle East.

“Demand for these bikes will be higher in deserts or other difficult terrain,” Katano said in an interview. “This vehicle will allow people to travel in places where roads are bad and inaccessible to cars, as well as through bodies of water.”

The company has selected key underwriters for an initial public offering of shares on the Mothers market in Tokyo for startups in the country’s first launch of its kind. Katano, which is currently engaged in discussions with the Tokyo Stock Exchange, declined to specify an estimated valuation or a deadline for the offering.

Personal flying vehicles were the stuff of science fiction for decades before Star Wars, which featured the famous racing scene with magnifying pods close to the ground. Electric-air transport is now getting closer to reality as the first wave of designs by startups like Joby Aviation Inc. reaches maturity and developers attract sponsor investors. Billions of dollars have poured into the sector by 2021, as well as an impressive number of orders, mostly from commercial airlines. The next 18 months will be a pivotal moment for the nascent industry, as manufacturers make key test flights and finalize plans for so-called vertiports and regulators review how well best to ensure safety.

The ALI bike is not intended to fly very far in the air, mainly to help overcome rough terrain. It’s built like a zoomed-in drone with tradition motorcycle seats and handlebars on top.

Founder Komatsu has described his aim as realizing an “air mobility society” where cars, bicycles and other vehicles can transport people in the sky.

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ALI has attracted investment from a number of well-known Japanese companies, including Sega Sammy Holdings Inc., Nagoya Railroad Co., Nakanihon Air Service Co., Kyocera Corp. and Mitsubishi Electric Corp soccer star Keisuke. Honda’s motobike, who played for the national team at the 2018 World Cup, is also a defender. A spokesman for Nagoya Railway Company said that ALI’s drones were the first to attract investors, but the startup is also developing capabilities in artificial intelligence and blockchain technology. .

“There are expectations for growth, so once products like this hit the headlines, the company’s stock,” said Tomoichiro Kubota, a senior market analyst at Matsui Securities Co. could be bought up, getting a boost from retail investors.” The company is still not at the level where people can talk about its earnings outlook in detail, which makes it difficult to pinpoint a suitable valuation number. “

While the successful IPO would make ALI the only listed company in Japan specializing in next-generation air travel, several companies in the same industry are already trading on exchanges in New York. This includes Joby, Archer Aviation Inc., Lilium NV and Vertical Aerospace Ltd.

Joby, with a market capitalization of more than $3 billion, is close to commercializing what the industry calls eVTOLs, or electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft. These flying taxis run on batteries and, the companies say, are intended to fly without a pilot when regulations allow.

How do the top flying taxi companies compare?

“U.S.-listed air travel companies have a sizable market value,” said Katano. “If you consider our company to be of a similar type, I think we should be able to win the understanding of investors to have the right valuation.”

ALI will aim for unicorn valuation – $first billion or more — in the long term, Katano added. But the company has yet to decide how best to classify its vehicles, which will depend on discussions with the local regulatory authorities where the products are sold.

“We thought our aircraft could be classified differently from existing aircraft,” said Katano. “It doesn’t move on the ground, but it still flies closer to the ground and at a low altitude.”

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