Lidar maker AEye to go public via $2 billion deal with Cantor-backed SPAC

(Reuters) - AEye Inc said on Wednesday it had agreed to go public through a merger with a blank-check firm backed by financial services company Cantor Fitzgerald, in a deal which values the lidar sensor maker at $2 billion.

The deal with CF Finance Acquisition Corp III is expected to provide AEye with gross proceeds of $455 million, raised by the SPAC during its IPO and from private investors including GM Ventures, Subaru-SBI and Intel Capital, among others.

Other AEye investors include LG Electronics Inc, Airbus Ventures and auto supplier Continental AG, which acquired a minority stake in the California startup in October.

Founded in 2013 by former Lockheed Martin and NASA engineer Luis Dussan, AEye is one of several firms specializing in a relatively young technology that uses light-based sensors to generate a three-dimensional view of the road.

Blank-check firms, or SPACs, like CF III are shell companies that raise funds through an initial public offering to take a private company public.

AEye is the latest lidar sensor maker to take the SPAC merger route to enter public markets, following in the footsteps of peers Ouster Inc and Peter Thiel-backed Luminar Technologies Inc.

The combined company, to be called AEye Holdings Inc, will be listed on the Nasdaq after the merger.

Guggenheim Securities and Cantor Fitzgerald & Co are serving as the financial and capital markets advisor to AEye and CF III respectively.

Reporting by Sohini Podder in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.