AEye, which makes proprietary active sensing, intelligent LiDAR solutions designed to address the most difficult challenges facing autonomous driving, says it has agreed to merge with CF Finance Acquisition Corp. III (Nasdaq: CFAC). The combined company will be called AEye Holdings, Inc. and is expected to be publicly listed on Nasdaq following the close of the transaction.

AEye, which was founded in 2013, says its active LiDAR – which combines an agile MEMS-based scanner, 1550-nm laser, and bistatic advanced receiver with embedded deterministic artificial intelligence – 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, the company’s active LiDAR is claimed to uniquely enable higher levels of autonomous functionality (SAE L2-L5) at the optimal performance, power, and price.

The proposed transaction, says the company, will expand its 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,” says 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),” says LaCorte, “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.”

The transaction, say the companies, 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 Corp. III, and $225 million in cash from a fully subscribed private investment in public equity (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.

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

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. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021.


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