Swiss Nanosatellite Startup Astrocast Seeks Direct Stock Listing

Astrocast, a Swiss firm developing tiny satellites that deliver internet access to all types of devices, is seeking as much as 50 million Swiss francs ($54 million) in a private placement ahead of a direct listing on the stock market.

The company, which is backed by venture capital firm Adit Ventures, Airbus SE’s venture arm and the European Space Agency, is planning a direct listing of 30% to 40% of its shares in the third quarter, executives said in an interview. Astrocast plans to list on one of Euronext NV’s exchanges for small and mid-sized companies, though it hasn’t decided which one, they said.

Unlike Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite service -- aimed at supplying high-speed internet to people who can’t be reached by fiber-optic cables -- companies like Astrocast and Swarm Technologies Inc are putting up a constellation of tiny satellites, connecting a variety of devices, that could be the key to making the so-called Internet of Things work well.

“Business is global, but connectivity is not and that’s a huge issue,” said Astrocast Chief Executive Officer Fabien Jordan, adding that terrestrial IoT networks including cellular coverage only extend to about 10% of the planet. “We can extend that coverage, and we are providing IoT firms a way to keep communication active even in remote areas, regardless of where the asset is, be it the North Pole or the middle of a desert or ocean.”

Astrocast has seven operational satellites with five more due to be launched by Musk’s SpaceX on Friday. The company wants to get 100 satellites into orbit by the end of 2024, and will return to the stock market after its listing to secure additional funding, said Chief Financial Officer Kjell Karlsen.

Unlike traditional initial public offerings, which involve big fees to a roster of banks and a lengthy period of gathering investor orders, direct listings allow companies to tap public markets quickly by putting shares directly on an exchange.

The approach has been used in the U.S. by technology startups including cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Global Inc. and website-hosting service Squarespace Inc. In Europe, digital-payments provider Wise plans a direct listing next month on the London Stock Exchange.

Astrocast isn’t the only space-related listing in European markets at the moment. Space-technology investor Seraphim Space Investment Trust Plc on Tuesday said is looking to raise as much as 180 million pounds ($251 million) in a London listing.

“There is a massive commodification of the communication industry that’s going to unfold, and offerings like that of Astrocast are a way for public market investors to get into the industry at a very early stage,” said Greg Revenu, managing partner at Bryan, Garnier & Co., the investment bank that’s the global coordinator on Astrocast’s listing.

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