Mobileye shares jump 58 percent in bumper debut

Fri Aug 1, 2014 12:03pm EDT

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(Reuters) - Shares of Mobileye NV (MBLY.N) soared in their market debut on Friday as investors bet that the race by automakers to improve safety ratings would boost demand for the company's unique camera-based systems that help drivers avoid collisions.

Mobileye's shares jumped as much as 58 percent to a high of $39.40 on the New York Stock Exchange, valuing the Israeli company at about $8.4 billion.

The company's technology detects other vehicles and objects using only a camera and software based on complex algorithms, unlike other systems which use complex radar-based sensors.

Like Google Inc (GOOGL.O) (GOOG.O), the company is also developing a self-driving car.

Mobileye's technology is already used in more than three million vehicles made by BMW AG (BMWG.DE), General Motors Co (GM.N) and electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA.O), among others.

Mobileye's offering - the largest U.S. IPO by an Israeli company - raised about $890 million after the shares were priced at $25, above the expected range of $21-$23.

The company was founded in 1999 by Amnon Shashua, a professor of computer science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Israeli businessman Ziv Aviram.

Shashua is the chairman and Aviram the chief executive of the company. Both sold shares in the offering but retain an 8 percent stake each. Between them, Shashua and Aviram made $92 million from the share sale.

Of the 35.6 million shares offered, Mobileye sold 8.33 million shares while the rest were sold by shareholders. The company bumped up its IPO size by about 28 percent on Thursday.

Mobileye is taking advantage of a push by automakers to attain high safety ratings from agencies such as the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The company's windshield-mounted cameras take pictures of lanes, pedestrians and vehicles ahead of the car. The images are processed real-time and a small device on the dashboard gives the driver audio-visual warnings.

Goldman Sachs & Co (GS.N), the lead underwriter to the offering along with Morgan Stanley, is the largest shareholder in the company with a 12.3 percent stake.

Other major investors include Israel's leading automobile importer distributor Colmobil Ltd, Fidelity Investments, BlackRock Inc (BLK.N) and Enterprise Holdings Inc [ERACR.UL], which owns the No. 1 U.S. car rental company.

Mobileye's revenue doubled to $81.2 million in 2013. The company also swung to a profit, earning about $20 million in the year, compared with a loss of $53 million a year earlier.

(Reporting by Avik Das and Amrutha Gayathri in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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