Intel to buy Israeli technology firm Mobileye for $15 billion

01:23 14/03/2017
U.S. chipmaker Intel (INTC.O) agreed to buy driverless technology firm Mobileye (MBLY.N) for $15.3 billion on Monday, positioning itself for a dominant role in the autonomous-driving sector after missing the market for mobile phones.

The $63.54 per share cash deal is the biggest technology takeover in Israel's history and the largest purchase of a company solely focused on the self-driving sector.

Intel will integrate its automated driving group with Mobileye's operations, with the combined entity being run by Mobileye Chairman Amnon Shashua from Israel.

Intel Chief Executive Brian Krzanich said the acquisition, which unites Intel's processors with Mobileye's computer vision, was akin to merging the "eyes of the autonomous car with the intelligent brain that actually drives the car."

The logo of Intel, the world's largest chipmaker, is seen at their offices in Jerusalem, April 20, 2016. Photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo

Mobileye accounts for 70 percent of the global market for driver-assistance and anti-collision systems. It employs 660 people and had adjusted net income of $173.3 million last year.

Intel said it expected the transaction to close within the next nine months and to immediately boost its non-GAAP earnings per share and free cash flow.

The price represents a premium of around 33 percent to Mobileye's Friday closing price of $47 a share.

"It's an area where the company (Intel) has had very little presence - the automotive market, and so this is a tremendous opportunity for them to get into a market that has significant growth opportunities," said Betsy Van Hees, an analyst at Loop Capital Markets who has a "buy" rating on Intel shares.

"Mobileye's technology is very critical ... The price seems fair," she added.

Because Mobileye's Shashua will remain in charge and the combined entity will be based in Israel, analysts said they expected it to be far more difficult for rivals to mount a counter offer for Mobileye.

Shashua and two other senior Mobileye executives stand to do well by the deal: together they own nearly 7 percent of the company. Shmuel Harlap, Israel's biggest car importer and one of Mobileye's earliest investors, also holds a 7 percent stake.

Yossi Vardi, seen as the godfather of Israeli high-tech, said the deal was a big endorsement of the whole sector.

"I'm sure that this ... will be a very important impetus to create a whole industry related to autonomous and connected vehicles (in the country)," he said.

Reuters