WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish 3D printer maker Zortrax, expanding fast after a landmark U.S. order, is pressing ahead with fundraising plans that could include a flotation and that dovetail with government ambitions to create a hi-tech economy.
Founded as recently as December but already growing at a breakneck pace, Zortrax is on schedule to complete the order from tech giant Dell 4331.HK for 5,000 of its M200 desktop printers by year-end, Chief Executive Rafal Tomasiak told Reuters in an interview.
That, along with a few thousand more orders from retail clients for a machine priced at $1,899, means revenues for the company, based in the northeastern city of Olsztyn, are soaring.
Zortrax’s segment of the 3D printer market has been growing by several hundred percent each year and “we are growing at an analogous pace,” Tomasiak said.
To help fund the expansion, the firm has launched a bond issue that closes on Thursday and would consider a share offer.
“We certainly do consider listing the company,” Tomasiak said on the sidelines of a design fair at the Warsaw Stock Exchange, adding he had already turned down takeover offers from two larger competitors.
“I appreciate the confidence investors put in us and will remember that - we will reciprocate this favor if it comes to a public share offering.”
A POLISH NOKIA?
A 29-year old technology graduate and former Nokia NOK1V.HE employee, Tomasiak won a codebreaking contest organized by the once iconic Finnish firm when he was 18.
Now he could potentially help realize the dream of Regional Development Minister Elzbieta Bienkowska, who told Reuters last autumn she hoped - with the help of billions of euros of European Union structural funds - to “build a Polish Nokia.”
That is a challenge Tomasiak would relish.
“For sure our goal is to be first in this category of firms and we will do everything to achieve it. We are following our own path, we are hungry for this success,” Tomasiak said.
Sales in Poland’s information and communications technology sector accounted for about 126 billion zlotys, or 8 percent of GDP, in 2012, its statistics office estimated.
So far Zortrax has not used EU structural funds, but it has not ruled out doing so in the future, Tomasiak said.
Meanwhile, it plans to raise $3.3 million from a public sale of three-year bonds. Subscriptions will close on Thursday, says Invista DM brokerage which is conducting the offer.
It sold bonds worth 1.2 million zlotys ($393,800) in a private placement earlier this year, and last year raised $180,000 on crowd-funding website Kickstarter.
Some of Zortrax' listed rivals have reached astronomical valuations, including Voxeljet VJET.N, traded at a forward price-earnings ratio of 468, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Last year, industrial 3D printer maker Stratasys Ltd SSYS.O announced the purchase of consumer peer MakerBot in a stock deal worth over $400 million.
But Zortrax is not interested in cashing in now.
“We will consider selling the company only when we become a leader of the SOHO (small office home office) and SMB (small and medium-sized business) market,” Tomasiak said, adding he was “very patriotic” and thought Poland was the best place to live.
The M200 printer - the firm’s flagship product that took more than two years to design - targets the small business segment, though he said Zortrax was also “in talks with a few large corporations which ordered test version of (our) printers”, including German tool producer Stihl.
Executives at Hewlett-Packard Co HPQ.N, one of the global leaders in standard paper printers, have estimated worldwide sales of 3D printers and related software and services will grow to almost $11 billion by 2021 from $2.2 billion in 2012.
The U.S. firm said earlier this month it would outline plans in June to enter the commercial 3D market.
Zortrax has new products in the pipeline too.
It plans to present a smaller printer, the M120, aimed at micro-businesses, in the next few months. At the end of this year, Zortrax also wants to show a prototype of a resin printer.
“A resin printer will allow us to enter very interesting market segments such as jewellery and medicine,” Tomasiak said.
“Such a printer will be capable of creating matrixes on which one can grow human tissue, organs as well as print bone implants.”
Reporting by Marcin Goettig; Editing by John Stonestreet
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