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Mon 7 Nov 2016 02:51 PM

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Mars One says acquired by Frankfurt-listed InFin for $96.1m

Company aims to recruit new CEO to replace founder Bas Lansdorp, who becomes board chairman under the takeover deal

Mars One says acquired by Frankfurt-listed InFin for $96.1m

The company working to establishment the first human settlement on Mars has been wholly acquired by Frankfurt Stock Exchange-listed investment firm InFin Innovative Finance AG, it said on Monday.

InFin and Mars One Ventures have signed a binding agreement under which the former will acquire 100 percent of shares in Mars One for €87 million ($96.1 million).

The takeover values Mars One Ventures at €107 million ($118.37 million), according to Reuters.

After admission of the new InFin shares to trading on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, Mars One’s shareholders will hold 97.5 percent of InFin shares, the company said.

InFin Innovative Finance AG will be renamed Mars One Ventures AG under the deal, while Mars One founder and CEO Bas Lansdorp will become chairman of the board.

The company said it would look for a new CEO of Mars One Ventures with a “proven track record in growing start-ups and established media companies”.

Lansdorp said: “We’re looking for a visionary CEO for Mars One Ventures to build the Mars One brand and grow the company to a multi billion dollar business over the course of 10 years to enable the next giant leap for humankind: Settling Mars”.

The listing at Frankfurt Stock Exchange enables direct access to the global capital market and will be the first global opportunity for investment banks, funds, stockbrokers and retail investors to take part in Mars One’s mission to the Red Planet.

The $6 billion Mars One Project aims to send people on a one-way mission to colonise Mars by 2027.

Last year, the company selected its first 100 candidates for full-time training ahead of the proposed voyage in 2024, including a handful from the Middle East. That number is to be whittled down to 24 and split into small groups that will spend the next eight years preparing for the mission.

Lansdorp told local media last November that he wanted to build a training centre for Mars One astronauts in the UAE, because “Dubai looks a little like Mars”.

In a statement announcing the deal on Monday, Lansdorp said: “Mars One is very pleased to have been acquired by InFin. This step provides the opportunity to raise capital through the listing on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

“This listing also supports our aim to attract international support to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars: 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.”

Professor Moritz Hunzinger, CEO of InFin, added: “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, especially once the pending Mars One mission funding has been completed.”

Mars One comprises two entities – the not-for-profit Mars One Foundation and British listed company Mars One Ventures.

The Mars One Foundation implements and manages the mission, including selecting and training crew. It has an advisory board including a former NASA chief technologist, an astronaut and a Nobel prize laureate.

The foundation has transferred all global monetisation rights to Mars One Ventures to finance the mission. Revenue streams include sales of merchandise, ads on video content, broadcasting rights, brand partnerships, Intellectual Property and others, the company said.

InFin Innovative Finance AG is a Swiss venture capitalist firm that finances, sets up, builds, acquires, manages and sells companies. It also holds and manages various types of licences and patents.

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