Astra agrees to go private


Astra agrees to go private

WASHINGTON — Spacecraft propulsion and launch company Astra Space has accepted a proposal from its founders to take the company private after previously warning its only other alternative was bankruptcy.

The company announced March 7 that it accepted a revised proposal made by Chris Kemp and Adam London, chief executive and chief technology officer respectively, on Feb. 24 to take the company private at $0.50 per share. That price was just one third of what the two originally offered in a November 2023 proposal to take the company private at $1.50 per share.

Astra said in a statement that a special committee of the company’s board of directors, tasked with evaluating that proposal and any alternatives, unanimously recommended the revised proposal. That committee, comprised of independent or otherwise disinterested directors, evaluated the proposal in the context of the company’s financial situation and concluded it was in the best interests of the company.

Astra’s board of directors then approved the proposal, with Kemp, London and Scott Stanford abstaining. SherpaVentures Fund II, an affiliate of Stanford who has helped finance the company in recent months, agreed to contribute its stake in the company as part of the deal.

Kemp and London said in their revised proposal that they estimated needing $40 million to $45 million to finance the deal, which covers buying shares and other expenses as well as providing a minimum of $20 million of cash to finance operations. They said they had arranged financing for the deal, including $8.6 million from unnamed customers to support future orders.

They did not disclose specifics of the financing, such as the identities of the companies financing future orders. Astra said in the statement that, once taken private, Astra will be owned by “a number of long-term investors” in the company, including Kemp and London.

The proposal from Kemp and London appeared to be the only option to keep Astra alive. The company said in a March 1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the special committee evaluating the proposal to go private had studied alternatives, “none of which have come to fruition.” It concluded that, if the proposal fell through, its only option was to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, resulting in liquidation of the company.

Astra said that it expected the deal to close in the second quarter, with no additional shareholder approvals needed. The company did not disclose if and when it planned to release financial results for the fourth quarter and all of 2023 before going private.

Shares in Astra, which closed March 6 at $0.86, fell sharply once Astra announced it was going private, closing at $0.584. The company went public in July 2021 through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger, but the value of those shares has dropped by more than 99% from its peak shortly after going public.

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