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Self-driving startup Aurora Innovation trades 14.67% lower in public trading debut

With Paccar and Volvo as partners, Aurora pledges driverless trucks in 2023

SPAC shareholders approved the business combination between Aurora Innovation and Reinvent Technology Partners Y on Tuesday. (Photo: Aurora Innovation)

Editor’s Note: Updates with first-day trading details

Self-driving startup company Aurora Innovation began public trading on a down note Thursday after shareholders in special purpose acquisition company Reinvent Technology Partners Y approved a business combination earlier in the week.

Shares closed down 14.67% at $9.60 on Thursday, below the SPAC price of $10 per share.

RTPY changed its name to Aurora Innovation Inc., trading under the ticker symbols NASDAQ: AUR and NASDAQ: AUROW, reflecting stock warrants that early investors received as part of their SPAC purchases.

Shares opened at $11.25 and reached $11.46 intraday before settling lower. First-day trading volume was nearly 3.5 million shares.

Speed to market

The completion of the SPAC, including Securities and Exchange Commission review, took just under four months, among the fastest SPAC merger completions ever. The overwhelmingly approved business combination closed Wednesday, clearing the way for Aurora to receive approximately $1.8 billion in proceeds raised by RTPY plus cash on Aurora’s balance sheet.

When the merger was announced in July, proceeds included $600 million in Aurora’s cash for a total of $2.5 billion. SPAC shareholders redeemed about $755 million of shares at $10 per share, according to RTPY’s 8-K filing Wednesday. SPAC investors are allowed to opt out of a deal before the merger is complete if, for example, if they don’t like the merger target.

Shareholder voting on Tuesday also affirmed the board of directors and election of a third of directors each year, called classified voting. That makes it harder for shareholders to vote out an entire board at one time.

SPAC shareholders also approved moving Aurora’s incorporation to Deleware from the Cayman Islands.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, companies have increasingly de-staggered elections to give shareholders a greater vote in corporate governance, according to Jay Kesten, associate professor of law at Florida State University.

The speed of the deal is remarkable because of growing SEC scrutiny of SPACs, a shortened path to public trading that has looser rules than traditional initial public offerings.

Reinvent Technology Partners Y (NASDAQ: RTPY) and the founders of Aurora agreed to a four-year lockup of their shares with 25% being released each year following Wednesday’s  expected closing. Other shareholders who purchased RTPY shares as part of a private investment in public equity (PIPE) cannot sell their shares for 180 days.

Embark Trucks SPAC expected to close next week

A second SPAC-sponsored autonomous trucking company, Embark Trucks, is expected to close its business combination with Northern Genesis Acquisition Corp. next Tuesday and begin trading by the end of next week.

A third autonomous trucking SPAC, Plus, has been delayed and won’t close by next Monday, the latest date given by sponsor Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp..

Aurora is building the technology and business to commercialize self-driving at scale both in trucking and passenger mobility, beginning with Aurora Horizon driverless trucks in 2023 and autonomous ride-hailing passenger vehicles in 2024.Its trucking manufacturing partners include Paccar Inc. and Volvo Trucks, both of which invested in Aurora.

Proceeds from the business combination represent the largest-ever autonomous vehicle or robotics company primary raise in a go-public transaction. 

“Upon the closing, this new capital will further support our timeline toward delivering the technology to make the movement of goods and people safer, more reliable and efficient,” said Chris Urmson, Aurora co-founder and CEO.

Endangered SPAC? Public trading path for Plus could be in jeopardy

Paccar, Volvo invest in self-driving tech company Aurora’s $10.6B SPAC

Aurora, Paccar and FedEx team up to test autonomous trucks in Texas

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.


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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.