Rocket Lab is set to go public in the United States with a sharemarket valuation of US$4.1 billion (NZ$5.7b) according to report by the Wall Street Journal.
The newspaper said the company founded by Kiwi Peter Beck was nearing an agreement with a company called Vector Acquisition that is already listed on the United States’ Nasdaq exchange, with a market valuation of US$390m.
Vector raised US$300m in September and was in effect a shell company, set up for the purpose of assisting another on to the sharemarket, according to the report.
Rocket Lab has been contacted for comment.
Rocket Lab is headquartered in the US, but employs most of its staff in New Zealand where it has launched all its rockets to date from the Māhia Peninsular near Gisborne.
A Nasdaq listing would allow ordinary New Zealanders to invest in the business for the first time, through most sharebrokers.
A US$4.1b valuation would mean Rocket Lab had roughly tripled in value since it raised private capital in a funding round in November 2018, at which time it had only had one commercial flight.
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It has since gone on to complete another 15 successful launches, with one launch failure.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Rocket Lab would raise another US$470m at the same time as listing, which it would use to develop a new “medium-lift Neutron” rocket to complement its comparatively small 17-metre tall Electron rockets.
That would allow it to launch heavier satellites, compete for work deploying controversial “mega-constellations” of communications satellites, and engage in missions into deeper space.
The Government-owned New Zealand Venture Investment Fund revealed to a select committee in 2019 that it was offered the chance to invest in Rocket Lab in 2014, when the space launch company was worth only $30m, but had to turn down the opportunity because its rules at the time did not allow it to invest directly in small, early-stage ventures.
Kiwis would get some benefit from a successful listing, however, as the Accident Compensation Commission invested in the firm in its 2018 funding round.