WASHINGTON — Japanese lunar exploration company ispace plans to list its shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange next month, just before the company attempts its first landing on the moon.
Tokyo-based ispace announced March 8 it won approval to list shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Growth Market, reserved for smaller, higher-risk companies. Shares will start trading on the exchange April 12.
According to a filing with the exchange, ispace plans to offer about 24.7 million shares, out of 78.6 million issued, in the initial public offering (IPO). The company will set the price of those shares on April 3.
“Through this new listing, ispace seeks to commence dialogues with as many global investors in the stock market as possible and request their participation in this infrastructure construction project,” ispace said in a statement about the listing, referring to its long-term goal of establishing a “unified ecosystem” between the Earth and moon.
The listing would take place just before ispace’s first lander, HAKUTO-R Mission 1, attempts a landing on the moon. At a Feb. 27 briefing, company executives said the spacecraft would land at Atlas Crater, located on the edge of Mare Frigoris in the northeastern quadrant of the near side of the moon, around the end of April. The spacecraft is scheduled to enter orbit around the moon in late March.
Takeshi Hakamada, founder and chief executive of ispace, deflected a question at that briefing about the possibility of going public. “We are always looking for multiple ways to raise funds to support our future missions,” he said. “An IPO is one solution for that.”
The company has raised nearly $200 million in several private rounds, including a $46 million Series C round in August 2021. In the exchange filing, ispace reported having 93 million yen ($0.7 million) in capital as of March 8.
The plan by ispace to go public comes after another lunar lander developer, Houston-based Intuitive Machines, went public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that closed Feb. 13. That raised $55 million from capital provided by an affiliate of the SPAC sponsor and company founders, rather than from proceeds of the SPAC itself.
Shares in Intuitive Machines, trading on the Nasdaq exchange, soared in the first days after the SPAC merger closed. The company’s shares closed Feb. 22 at nearly $82 after trading at one point during the day at $136.
It was not clear what drove the sharp increase, as the company made no major announcements during that time. “We are pleased with the interest in Intuitive Machines as we embark on life as a public company and continue to work tirelessly to deliver on our commitments to our customers and shareholders,” company spokesman Josh Marshall said Feb. 17, adding that the company is “focused on execution” after completing the SPAC merger.
Intuitive Machines’s stock price has tumbled since that Feb. 22 peak, though. Shares closed March 8 at $10.26, down 18.3% for the day and bringing the price back to just below where it was Feb. 13.