Mars One is going public.
The multinational space company, which once planned to fund manned missions to Mars via a reality TV show, has agreed to a reverse takeover by a Swiss company previously devoted to mobile-payment services. Shareholders in Basel-based InFin Innovative Finance AG (KCC:F) will vote on the deal Dec.2.
Once the transaction is finalized, the merged company will change its name to Mars One Ventures AG and begin trading on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.
Current owners of Mars One will hold 97.5 percent equity in the new company, which will trade under a new symbol yet to be decided. The deal values Mars One Ventures at 107 million euros, or roughly $118 million.
Mars One initially aimed to send humans to Mars in the next 10 years, but it since has wound back that timeline. The enterprise currently consists of two entities: U.K.-based Mars One Ventures PLC and Mars One Foundation.
The latter, a Netherlands-based nonprofit, runs a public competition to select from applicants for rides to the Red Planet. That process, and the eventual planned colonization of Mars, was pitched to Endemol as a reality TV series, but the Dutch producer eventually rejected the concept.
Launched by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp in 2012, Mars One has a CEO search under way and is run by a board composed in large part of European scientists and academics. Initially, Lansdorp will serve both as chairman and chief of Mars One Ventures.
Mars One has drawn broad scorn for its perceived over-promising with regard to timelines and a lack of details on how it will accomplish its goals. The ability to tap into public capital may help address the question of mission execution, though skeptics will point to this statement deep in the news release about the takeover as evidence of more Earth-bound aims.
“Mars One Ventures holds the exclusive monetization rights around the Mars One mission,” the companies said. “There are many revenue possibilities around the mission to Mars — merchandise, ads on video content, broadcasting rights, partnerships, Intellectual Property, events, games, apps and many more.”
The heads of the respective companies stressed both loftier aims and more fiduciary concerns.
“This step provides the opportunity to raise (and) supports our aim to attract international support to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars,” Lansdorp said. “Our global followers will have the opportunity to be part of this adventure and to literally own a piece of this historic venture. We have a solid business based on our historical performance that might be of interest to anyone looking for diversification of their investment portfolio.”
Said InFin chief Moritz Hunzinger: “We are delighted having closed this transaction. We feel confident that the international brand recognition of Mars One, combined with InFin as a listed vehicle at a regulated market as a capital raising platform, will in time deliver long-term sustainable returns to our existing and future shareholders.”