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Astroscale Holdings surges 51% in Tokyo market debut

Shares of Japanese space junk removal startup Astroscale Holdings rose 51 per cent in their debut on Tokyo’s growth market on Wednesday.

The stock first traded at 1,281 yen per share, compared with an initial public offering (IPO) price of 850 yen, valuing the company at 145 billion yen ($934 million).

The listing is “just a milestone, though a big step, of our long path to solve a global commons problem” of increasing space debris, said Astroscale chief executive Nobu Okada.

The startup has won government backing in Japan, the United States and Britain as it develops technology to remove orbital debris seen as a collision risk and to extend the life of satellites.

Astroscale’s orbital rendezvous technology, commercial growth potential beyond public clients and multinational presence led to strong investor demand – roughly 30 times bigger than its offer size, said Okada, a former Japanese finance ministry official who founded the company in 2013.

The company sold 12.49 million shares in Japan and 9.68 million shares overseas, after pricing the IPO at the top of its indicated 750-850 yen range. That doesn’t include a greenshoe option – allowing security underwriters to sell more if there is additional demand – of 3.12 million shares.

Astroscale was operating at a 9.2 billion yen consolidated loss in the year that ended in April 2023. Chief financial officer Nobuhiro Matsuyama did not say when it will turn profitable.

Astroscale follows suit of moon explorer ispace and radar satellite maker iQPS, which went public last year as investors, especially retail traders, pay growing attention to Japanese space companies backed by the government’s policy.

Japan has pledged billion-dollar space grants and contracts for private firms to boost its national security and to double the size of the domestic space industry to 8 trillion yen by the early 2030s. CNA

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