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Self-driving towards an IPO? Intel unveils plans for Mobileye offering

Chipzilla to keep its hands on the wheel

Intel will take its Mobileye tentacle public next year, five years after spending $15bn to buy the sensor company.

Chipzilla said it will maintain majority ownership of Mobileye after the offering, expected in mid-2022 (although a final decision on the IPO, its conditions and timings has yet to be made.)

The justification given for the move is to "unlock the value of Mobileye for Intel shareholders."

Unsurprisingly, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger boasted of Intel's success with its purchase and said, "Intel's acquisition of Mobileye has been a great success. Mobileye has achieved record revenue year-over-year with 2021 gains expected to be more than 40 percent higher than 2020."

So what better time than now to pop some cash back into Intel shareholders' pockets?

Reuters reported "a person familiar with the matter" as putting a potential value of the Israeli outfit as being in the region of $50bn.

Mobileye gained some unwanted fame after a spat with a customer: self-driving car proponent, Tesla. The two parted ways in 2016, shortly before the Intel acquisition with Mobileye upending the scorn bucket over Tesla's so-called "autopilot." The sensor maker expressed concern over its reputation amid incidents involving Elon Musk's electric jalopies. One incident resulted in the finger of blame being pointed to Mobileye's camera before moving on to the radar.

Since parting ways with Tesla and buddying up with Intel, things have gone well for Mobileye. It demonstrated a fully autonomous robotaxi (in partnership with car rental giant Sixt) in September this year and in 2020 Chipzilla snapped up the Israeli public transport startup Moovit for a cool $1bn. At the time, the transaction was described as "strategic" to Intel and Mobileye.

Founder and CEO of Mobileye, Prof Amnon Shashua, paid tribute to Intel, whose purchase of Mobileye had resulted in "nearly tripling annual chip shipments, revenue and the number of employees since the acquisition."

Shortages? What shortages?

Certainly Mobileye has been churning out the chips (although not from Intel's plants.) In 2021 the company shipped its 100 millionth EyeQ system-on-chip (SoC) and has secured Mobility-as-a-Service deals starting in 2023 and 41 new Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) program wins across more than 30 automakers globally.

The transaction is not expected to have an impact on Intel's 2021 financial targets. ®

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