2016 is turning into the year that Australian mineral and mining companies began pivoting into technology, and not necessarily to improve their original businesses
Israeli startup Humavox, which is producing wireless charging technology, is dancing today. Melbourne-based Aurum has merged with Humavox, buying a 50% stake in the Israeli company according to a joint statement issued Monday.
The major news about the merger is that Humavox CEO Omri Lachman won’t simply be installed on Aurum’s board or its executive team, but will be made the new Aurum CEO thanks to a complete restructuring of the merged company.
While Aurum will now own a sizable portion of Humavox, the two have emphasized that the Israeli firm will remain under its own brand as a separate entity.
The acquisition will take two years to complete with monthly installment payments to Humavox shareholders. The first installment, sort of a down payment, will be $5.5 million.
Along with the news of the merger, Aurum announced that they are making an additional $16 million investment in Humavox to help propel the company’s advancement forward.
Lachman has served as founder and CEO since June 2010, over that time also founding communications company Yallo in August 2012.
From Australia to Israel, from gold to silicon
It is just the latest in a series of Australian mineral corporations investing big money in Israeli technology startups as the industry faces major contraction. New technologies are seen as a way of diversifying aging businesses’ offerings.
Several deals have been made between Australian companies and Israeli startups in the last month alone. Perth petroleum company Azonto bought smart gun manufacturer Clipfort for $28.1 million in April, Melbourne-based Consolidated Gems acquired VR company Byondata in March, Perth-based Victory Mines bought out Milestone Sports, and Drake Resources bought out cyber security startup Genome Technologies for A$11 million.
Israel isn’t the only country affected by the trend, which also involves the phenomenon of “reverse take-overs” where the acquiring company allows the acquisition to essentially assume the identity of the buyer on public stock exchanges. Potash Minerals took over Seattle-based Buddy that way last year, when Buddy assumed Potash’s listing on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). Respective acquisitions by Radar Iron and Erin Resources of Weebit-Nano and MGC pharmaceuticals also reflect this trend. Besides Buddy, eight other US tech companies found themselves on the ASX in the same way according to Upstart Business Journal.
The trend is a result of Australia’s busted resources boom. The industry depends on a high-risk, high-reward business strategy where each new project taken on by investors is incorporated, but leftover investments might be rolled into a new company should that mining endeavor fail. But with no new projects, technology is attracting that risk-and-reward attitude.