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LiDAR developer AEye to go public via merger with CF Finance Acquisition

23 Feb 2021

Active-sensing LiDAR technology delivers partial or full autonomy; boards of both parties have unanimously approved the transaction.

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

AEye’s proprietary active sensing, intelligent LiDAR addresses the most difficult challenges facing autonomous driving. The company stated, “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.”

By this means, AEye’s active LiDAR can enable higher levels of autonomous functionality (SAE Levels 2 to 5) 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 leading Tier 1 automotive suppliers (such as Continental) position us to deliver Advanced Driver Assistance Systems 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 needs of markets such as trucking, mining, intelligent traffic systems and railways.”

‘Automotive, industrial and mobility markets’

Howard Lutnick, Chairman and CEO of CF III and Chairman and CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, said, “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.”

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.

The company’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.

The system’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.

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 approved

The Boards of Directors 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.

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