Mobileye files for IPO amid barren Wall Street landscape

Israeli self-driving car company owned by Intel may seek to raise more than $30 billion with Nasdaq share sale

While stocks drop ever lower and corporate funding sources remain dry, investors saw some light last week when Mobileye, the Jerusalem-based chipmaker for self-driving vehicles that is owned by Intel Corp., filed for its long-anticipated initial public offering.

When the IPO will take place and how much Mobileye will seek to raise on the Nasdaq remains unanswered. But the company’s filing of its S-1 preliminary prospectus with the SEC late Friday generated rare optimism during a tough year.

“I am thrilled,” Michael Granoff, founder and managing partner of Maniv Mobility, told The Circuit. “Mobileye is the most impactful company that has ever been created in Israel, and its impact may grow manyfold in the years to come,” said Granoff, a veteran automotive technology investor who doesn’t hold an interest in the company.

If Mobileye starts selling shares before the end of 2022 as executives have indicated, it will be one of the biggest IPOs of the year. The IPO market has shrunk amid a 33% slide in the Nasdaq Composite Index since the end of 2021, a steady rise in interest rates and global tensions from the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

According to the filing, the IPO is being led by investment banks Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. Among the 24 financial advisors listed are Citigroup, Barclays, Evercore ISI and RBC Capital Markets.

The document leaves the size and timing of the IPO blank. Intel, which bought Mobileye for about $15.3 billion in 2017, had hoped to raise $50 billion with the IPO and has since trimmed the target to $30 billion, according to Bloomberg. Neither company has confirmed the report. Only two IPOs have raised $1 billion or more on New York exchanges since Jan. 1, compared with 45 in 2021.

Mobileye is one of the leaders in creating software, semiconductor chips, cameras and sensory arrays to enable the development of self-driving vehicles. Chief executives from the world’s largest car companies have made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to see the company and meet with CEO Amnon Shashua.

In Friday’s filing, Mobileye said it plans to use proceeds from the IPO to pay back debt to Intel, as well as for working capital and general corporate purposes. Other details gleaned from the prospectus are that Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger will serve as chairman of Mobileye and that the board will include Jon Huntsman, the former governor of Utah. Huntsman, who previously served as U.S. ambassador in both Russia and China and was a Republican candidate for president in 2012, serves on the board of Ford Motor Co. The document notes that Mobileye acquired Moovit, a popular app and transportation business, from Intel this year. Intel bought the Israeli company for $900 million in 2020.

Shashua said in a July letter to employees that the IPO was being postponed until markets stabilize. “We still hope that the offering will take place in 2022 and meanwhile the company is prospering on all fronts and the future seems more promising than ever,” he wrote. In last week’s prospectus, the company reported a 21% increase in revenue for the first half of 2022 compared to the same period last year.

Gelsinger said in an interview with Calcalist while visiting Israel in March that Intel was closely following market conditions to determine the timing for the IPO. “The electric car market is heating up and I want Mobileye to be a prominent player there,” Gelsinger told the financial news site. “We are fully invested in Mobileye’s success but I think it will be a greater success after the IPO.”

New registrations for electric vehicles in the U.S. have increased by more than 250% over the past five years. Sales of electric cars in China nearly tripled to 3.3 million last year, about half the global total.

Granoff, whose fund is an investor in Israel’s Otonomo Technologies, which collects data from network-connected vehicles, said the Mobileye IPO will be good for the emerging industry of autonomous vehicles.

“They pioneered concepts that have made vehicles safer and have set the stage for cars that are increasingly automated,” he said.

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