Intel Corp. said Monday it will buy Israel’s Mobileye in a deal valued at just over $15 billion, the latest push by a major tech company to advance autonomous vehicles that could change the way traffic moves globally.
Mobileye develops technology that essentially gives computers a sense of their physical surroundings and it has also been creating ties to get that technology onto the road. Last year, it teamed up with Delphi Automotive to develop the building blocks for a fully autonomous car.
Intel will pay $63.54 for each share of Mobileye N.V., a 34 percent premium over its Friday closing price. The companies put the equity value of the deal at approximately $15.3 billion. Intel expects to use all cash for the deal.
The combined global autonomous driving company, which includes Mobileye and Intel’s autonomous driving group, will be based in Israel and led by Mobileye Chairman and co-founder Amnon Shashua.
Mobileye has 660 employees and it’s expected all will join Intel. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, in a call with investors and analysts, said that the deal is structured to retain Mobileye employees, from the top throughout the organization, though he declined to provide specifics. Krzanich said by moving Intel’s autonomous driving group to Israel provides “an additional retention factor.”
The joint organization will support both companies’ existing production programs and build on relationships with automotive original equipment manufacturers, Tier-1 suppliers and semiconductor partners to develop advanced driving assist, highly autonomous and fully autonomous driving programs.
Shashua said by joining with Intel, Mobileye will have “access to more resources” and that will “allow us to move faster, not slower.”
Delphi said in a statement it views Intel’s purchase of Mobileye as a positive for its active safety and automated driving business, and it will remain in partnership with both companies. “We believe the announcement will allow us to further accelerate the adoption of new technologies,” Delphi said.
Industry analysts on Monday said the acquisition is a major change for the automotive industry as more companies enter a race to put the first fully driverless vehicle into production. IHS Markit forecasts there will be 21 million autonomous vehicles sold in the year 2035. Until then, driver-assist and automated technology in vehicles will continue to grow.
Monday’s acquisition is “the latest in a series of high-profile and high-valuation acquisitions, investments and partnerships as automakers, suppliers and technology companies look to bring additional expertise in-house in order to capture more of the automotive and autonomous technology value chain,” Akhilesh Kona, IHS senior analyst, said in a note Monday.
That move solidifies Intel’s position in the autonomous driving supply chain, and could allow Intel to leverage Mobileye’s relationship with automakers.
And as U.S. automakers spend millions to make the company and southeast Michigan more attractive to technology-minded millennial engineers, Intel’s purchase builds a bridge in the other direction, according to Rebecca Lindland, analyst for Kelley Blue Book.
“Intel’s purchase of Mobileye is a fascinating cascading effect: a middle-aged company — Intel is 50 years old — purchasing the talents and capabilities of a teenage company — Mobileye is 18 years old — to help modernized mature companies (like) 100-plus-year-old GM (and) Daimler,” she said in a note. “If all three of these generations of companies draw on the expertise each brings, the possibilities are endless.”
Barclays Capital Inc., in a note to investors, said the deal makes sense but wondered if Mobileye could have bargained for a better price, because its all-time high closing price was $64.14 in August 2015.
“For those, such as ourselves, who saw Mobileye as the key enabler to autonomous driving, we would’ve expected Mobileye to play for much greater upside,” Barclays said.
Mobileye said in a note to employees that its relationships with automakers and Tier 1 suppliers will “continue uninterrupted.” The Mobileye name and brand also will remain intact.
Krzanich said in a news release that by working together, the companies will be able to “accelerate the future of autonomous driving with improved performance in a cloud-to-car solution at a lower cost for automakers.”
The deal, approved by the boards of both companies, is targeted to close within nine months, pending regulatory approvals. Krzanich said in the call that the acquisition will improve Intel’s earnings per share and its cash flow and by joining forces, Intel and Mobileye will be able to provide a full solution to customers.
Krzanich said in a note to Intel employees that Intel sees a huge opportunity with the data created by autonomous driving. Intel predicts that by 2020, autonomous vehicles will generate 4,000 gigabytes of data per day.
Mobileye stock jumped 28 percent Monday before the opening bell and closed at $60.59 per share on Monday, up just over 28 percent from market open. Intel stock closed down 2.1 percent to $35.16.
The Intel-Mobileye deal is the latest autonomous tech deal. Also in 2016, ride-hailing company Uber Technologies and Volvo signed a $300 million deal for Volvo to provide SUVs to Uber for autonomous vehicle research. General Motors Co. invested $500 million in Uber rival Lyft Inc. to develop a fleet of autonomous electric taxis.
Google has a partnership with Fiat Chrysler to work on autonomous minivans, and Volkswagen is working with Uber competitor Gett. BMW, Intel and Mobileye also have a partnership, and Ford has invested $150 million in laser sensor maker Velodyne.
Detroit News staff writers Melissa Burden and Ian Thibodeau, and the Associated Press contributed.
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