Rocket Lab tipped for $6b moonshot onto Nasdaq

Space flight firm Rocket Lab is on the verge of listing onto the NASDAQ in a deal that values the New Zealand-US startup at $5.7 billion.

The Wall Street Journal reported today talks between the company and Vector Acquisitions Corp were nearing completion and could be finalised with 24 hours, and was expected to see Rocket Lab raise another $650 million in cash from other private investors.

Vector is a special acquisition company, a vehicle that recruits investors and lists before pursuing a business to buy. Vector, backed by tech private equity firm Vector Capital, raised $400m on launch in September.

Rocket Lab is one of a cluster of spaceflight operators jostling for global market share in the smaller-launch market, where the focus is on achieving reliable delivery of small cargoes to lower earth orbits.

Any listing would catapult Rocket Lab – whose Mahia spaceport has delivered nearly a hundred satellites into orbit – into the top rank of New Zealand companies, and represents a huge blow for the local NZX. With a valuation of $5.7b, it would have ranked as one the 10 largest companies on the national exchange.

The apparently imminent listing is likely to lead to a huge payday for a number of local shareholders, notably chief executive Peter Beck, along with Stephen Tindall and ACC.

ACC and Tindall’s K1W1’s fund bought into Rocket Lab in a late 2018 funding round when the company was then-valued at just over $1b. Beck founded the company in 2006.

Information about shareholdings of Rocket Lab’s California-based parent, Rocket Lab USA, Inc, are not publicly available.

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