May 21, 2020 / 7:43 AM / 4 days ago

Israeli anti-viral mask maker Sonovia eyes Nasdaq listing this year

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Israel’s Sonovia Ltd, which makes washable and reusable anti-viral masks, is considering going public on Nasdaq by the end of this year, its chief technology officer said.

Employees of Israel's Sonovia Ltd, makers of washable and reusable antiviral masks, which the company says can help stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), work at their laboratory in Ramat Gan, Israel May 17, 2020.REUTERS/Amir Cohen

The masks are coated in zinc oxide nano-particles that destroy bacteria, fungi and viruses, and the company says they can help stop the spread of COVID-19.

“We believe we will complete the (IPO) process at the end of this year,” CTO Liat Goldhammer told Reuters. “We are targeting a valuation of $50 million. We are doing the legal and accounting process now.”

A successful listing depends on many factors, including the scale-up of production, the company said.

Goldhammer said Sonovia’s masks are not certified for use by medical professionals in operating and emergency rooms, which use only disposable masks.

But tests of its fabric show effectiveness of nearly 99% against viruses similar to COVID-19 and the fabric remains potent through 100 washes at high temperatures, she said.

While COVID-19 is not available for testing of commercial products, the material was tested at Austria’s HygCen medical lab this month using Vaccinia virus, which has similar properties to the SARS-COVID family.

The tests showed “a good virucidal effect”, according to the lab report.

Some $18 million has been invested in the technology, which began as research at Israel’s Bar Ilan University. This includes 12 million euros ($13 million) in grants from the European Union.

Goldhammer said that as companies bring people back to work after the coronavirus crisis and need masks, many are concerned about the environment and are seeking alternatives to single-use N95 masks.

Sonovia’s clients include German manufacturers Bruckner and Weber Ultrasonics, and hospitals in Germany and the United States. The company did not provide figures for sales of the masks, which are also sold online to consumers.

($1 = 0.9138 euros)

Editing by Timothy Heritage

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