Solar panel cleaning tech co Airtouch Solar set for IPO

Airtouch Solar PV panel cleaning system  credit: company presentation

Airtouch Solar will be the third robotic solar panel cleaning company to list in Tel Aviv within a few months. It is in dispute with the first - Ecoppia.

The huge appetite of investors on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange for green energy businesses has proved an incentive for companies in tangential fields to go for IPOs as well. The third company in just a few months dealing in solar panel cleaning robots is now on its way to the local stock market.

The company in question is Airtouch Solar, which as far as is known seeks to raise NIS 80 million ($25 million) at a pre-money valuation of NIS 500 million. Airtouch Solar, which was founded in 2016 by its chairperson Yanir Allouche, develops, manufactures, sells, operates, and maintains robotic solutions for dry (waterless) cleaning of photo-voltaic panels, in order to obtain maximum output. The company says that its solutions are controlled by a computer system that enables the user to manage, command and control it from anywhere. The company's main activity is currently in Israel. In the coming months, it will start doing business in India as well.

<p>Besides Allouche, the main shareholder in Airtouch Solar is Kibbutz Revivim in the Negev, which has signed a control agreement with Allouche in advance of the IPO. Among other shareholders are listed solar energy company Meshek Energy (TASE: MSKE), which at the beginning of the month announced an investment of $2 million for 4% of Airtouch Solar; a fund managed by Gabi Dishi and Michael Weiss, owners of the Alpha Fund; and Poalim IBI, which will lead the offering.

The draft prospectus published by Airtouch Solar reveals, among other things, a dispute with its competitor Ecoppia (TASE: ECPA), which was the first solar panel cleaning robot company to list on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, in November last year. Ecoppia has filed claims of infringement of intellectual property rights against Allouche and Airtouch Solar. Ecoppia claims that Airtouch Solar's activity is entirely based on Ecoppia's trade secrets and intellectual property rights, and that Allouche's exposure to Ecoppia's business when he worked at solar energy company Arava Power helped Airtouch Solar to save resources and reach the market quickly, such that it had enriched itself unlawfully at Ecoppia's expense.

For their part, Airtouch Solar and Allouche reject Ecoppia's claims out of hand, saying "This is an attempt by Ecoppia to harm the company and Mr. Allouche" Although Airtouch Solar says that there is no substance to Ecoppia's claims, it states that if the matter reaches the court and these claims are upheld, this "could represent significant exposure for the company."

Airtouch Solar has undertaken to bear Allouche's legal costs in the matter up to $1 million, and to provide him with an indemnity of up to $4 million.

Ecoppia, in which the largest shareholder is US partnership CIM Group, founded by Richard Ressler, Shaul Kuba and Avi Shemesh, alongside company founders Moshe and Eran Meller, and in which Shaul Shani, Leon Recanati and Harel Insurance Investments and Financial Services Ltd. (TASE: HARL) are also invested, develops and maintains robotic solar panel cleaning systems, and it too has its main activity in Israel and India.

Ecoppia has a market cap of NIS 1.3 billion. Its IPO in November followed a NIS 280 million fund raising round. Less than two weeks later, Blade Ranger (TASE: BLRN), which is in the same field, also held an IPO, since when its share price has shot up by 80%, giving it a current market cap of over NIS 200 million.

Airtouch Solar has little revenue at this stage. In 2020, revenue totaled NIS 700,000, from the start of activity with customers, and it posted a loss of NIS 4 million. In 2018-2019 it had no revenue at all, and lost a total of NIS 7 million.

As far as is known, Airtouch Solar's first customer is one of the longest established solar energy companies on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, Enlight Renewable Energy (TASE: ENLT), which has a market cap of NIS 5 billion. Airtouch Solar is also at various stages of negotiations with other players in the industry.

Airtouch Solar's auditors draw investors' attention to the company's need "to raise other sources of finance until it generates a regular positive cash flow to finance its activity."

Airtouch Solar's factory is in the Har Tuv industrial zone beside Bet Shemesh. The company employs about twenty people. Its CEO is Nick Lanir Brown, and its VP business development is Erez Schweppe, husband of Sharon Schweppe, one of the people behind REIT Menivim and formerly CEO of income producing real estate company Bayside Land Corp. Ltd.(Gav Yam) (TASE: BYSD1).

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 8, 2021

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2021

Airtouch Solar PV panel cleaning system  credit: company presentation
Airtouch Solar PV panel cleaning system credit: company presentation
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