Japanese startup Aerwins Technologies, which is selling a Star Wars-inspired $555,000 hoverbike, has received approval to list on the NASDAQ in a merger with blank-check firm Pono Capital Corp, the manufacturer said on Friday. Aerwins, which is taking orders for the XTurismo hoverbike with a motorcycle-like body on top of propellers that it unveiled last year, estimates it will be valued at $600 million in the transaction. The deal comes at a time when other mobility startups have faced difficulty raising funding, with valuations under pressure and a sharp reversal of what had been a market boom for listings through special-purpose acquisition companies (SPAC). SPACs, like Pono, raise money in public offerings and then aim to merge with a private company to take it public, offering a shorter listing timeframe to the acquired company.
Shares in Pono Closed up 24% on Thursday, the Largest Gain Since it Listed in 2021.
Aerwins, which also sells drones and related technology, says its hoverbike can fly for up to 40 minutes and up to 100 kph (62 mph). It has pitched the bike as a tool for rescue workers, infrastructure inspection and as a showpiece for public entertainment. The 300-kilogram (661 pounds) machine rests on landing skids when stationary and is powered by an engine from Kawasaki Heavy and a battery system. Started as ALI Technologies in Tokyo, the company said in a statement to Reuters that NASDAQ had approved its listing on Thursday, with trading to begin on Monday. Aerwins, which shifted its headquarters to Delaware from Tokyo ahead of the listing, has reported one sale of the hoverbike, to Japanese entrepreneur, Yoshiyuki Aikawa. Aikawa’s company, SBC Medical Group, which operates cosmetic medical centres in Japan, is going public through a merger with another Pono-related blank check company, Pono Capital Two. Early backers of the startup ALI include Mitsubishi Electric (OTC:MIELY) and Kyocera, as well as retired Japanese soccer star Keisuke Honda. Bloomberg first reported the timing of the Aerwins merger.