11. Dezember 2017 um 19:13 #436
Bas Lansdorp (BL). CEO and Co-founder of Mars One. Mars One consists of two entities: the Mars One Foundation, organizing a human mission to Mars, and Mars One Ventures AG, a commercial entity that holds the exclusive monetization rights around the mission. aktienfreak made the following exclusive interview with Mr. Lansdorp:
aktienfreak: Please describe the business model of Mars One Ventures AG and the strategic set-up of the whole group (including Mars One Foundation). How are you going to earn money and what about revenue and earnings in the current and in the upcoming years?
BL: I started Mars One when I found the revenue projections from broadcasting rights and sponsorships for the International Olympic Committee for the London Olympic games : $4.5b, which is 75% of the cost of our Mars mission! I realised that we could do something similar with our mars Mission and suddenly the Mars mission was not only financially feasible it was potentially profitable.
aktienfreak: Mars One Ventures AG has evolved in November 2016 from Swiss inFin Innovative Finance AG (formerly trading under the name Cashcloud Holding AG). Why did you decide to go public via a reverse takeover?
BL: We really wanted a listing in Frankfurt because it is such a good exchange. New listings on Frankfurt are usually time consuming and expensive.
aktienfreak: The reverse takeover is based on the acquisition of 100% of the shares of Mars One Ventures PLC (that are 47,300 shares of the PLC, right?) by Mars One Ventures AG. Therefore, additional 478.887.300 bearer shares with a nominal value of 0.20 CHF each have been issued. This corresponds to 95.8 million CHF and according to a press release dated November 11th 2016 the book value of Mars One Ventures PLC has been 107 million EUR at that time. Who calculated when and based on which assumptions the book value of Mars One Ventures PLC?
BL: The takeover price was simply the result of a negotiation between the two companies based on the potential that the directors of Mars One Ventures Plc believe their company had.
aktienfreak: On February 24th 2017, a German audit firm issued its appraisal report stating that Mars One Ventures AG is worth 389,3 million USD. Which audit firm issued this report, which assumptions have been used and why has the company been valued that much higher in February 2017 compared to its book value in December 2016?
BL: After that the transaction in 2016 the price had to be validated by an independent auditor, and we did that in two steps. First by Knoll Beck, a German auditor which resulted in a valuation of US$ 505m and a second by Swiss auditor Moore Stephens Expert Zurich which resulted in a valuation of US$ 389m.
aktienfreak: Since the reverse takeover, the company did not receive any contribution in cash. What about the current liquidity of Mars One Ventures AG?
BL: Since the reverse takeover, the Company has signed a €6m placing agreement. The funds will be received in 6 equal monthly payments once the share is trading again. In addition to that we have just started a private placement which is helping us fund daily operations and the actions required to get the shares trading again.
aktienfreak: The trading of Mars One Ventures AG shares in the regulated market of Deutsche Börse has been suspended on March 27th 2017. When do you expect the restart of the trading? Is the restart itself granted?
BL: The share is only not trading because the new shares have not yet been admitted to trading. The application for the new shares to be admitted to trading requires an update of the Prospectus and the work on that has already begun. When the Prospectus is approved, trading should resume quickly.
aktienfreak: The first manned mission to Mars shall start in 2031 generating costs of six billion Dollar. Experts repeatedly stated that this budget – according to their expertise – is way too low. But even expecting costs of „only“ six billion – how do you want to raise those funds / collect this money? Who is facing those expenses? The AG or the foundation or both?
BL: First of all, please note that Mars One Ventures does not pay for the mission. The mission is the responsibility for the Mars One Foundation. Secondly please note that we are planning a one way journey – hence the name Mars One. Our estimates for the cost of the mission have been discussed with the companies that need to build the equipment – the bottom up approach. Experts interviewed by journalists often oversee the difference between a one-way and a return mission. For a one-way mission no new technologies need to be invented and about 10x less hardware mass needs to be sent from Earth. The lowest cost NASA return mission was costed at US$ 65Bn. In space exploration the mass is a reasonable estimate of the cost, so the top down calculation ends up very close to our US$6Bn esitimate.
According to our projections, based on historic performance, the Mars One foundation can fund the mission from its revenues from donations and the 5% license fee paid by Mars One Ventures.
Even if the mission cost turns out higher, the Foundation can remain cash positive by postponing some of the later missions, withouty jeapordising the first unmanned mission in 2022.
aktienfreak: For what reason did Endemol step back from its participation in the project in February 2015? Who is able and willing to replace Endemol in this project?
BL: Our cooperation with Endemol ended because they were not the right partner for our content. The break up was not initiated by Endemol. Mars One had sent out a request for proposals from production companies and received proposals from 10 companies from which one was selected.
aktienfreak: Please describe the set-up of the advisory and ambassador team supporting the Mars One Foundation and please feel free to disclose who belongs to the financiers of the foundation.
BL: Mars One is supported by a long and impressive list of advisers and ambassadors, including physics Nobel Prize Laureate Gerard ‘t Hooft and former NASA chief technologist Mason Peck. Some of our advisers are very active and we are in touch with them every week, others have mainly joined the boards because they believe in Mars One and support us.
aktienfreak: How many people are currently on the payroll of the foundation and of the AG? What is the overhead of both entities?
BL: (no answer)
aktienfreak: As the AG, based in Basel, holds the rights for merchandise, broadcasting, games and apps, this company – in an extreme scenario – could be able to generate money / profits even in case the mars mission scheduled for 2031 would fail, couldn’t it?
BL: As the AG, based in Basel, holds the rights for merchandise, broadcasting, games and apps, this company – in an extreme scenario – could be able to generate money / profits even in case the mars mission scheduled for 2031 would fail, couldn’t it?
My heart is with the mission of Mars One and my head is with the media-related business case: I want to get humanity to Mars – but I also know that it will take a lot of money to achieve that. When I realised that the mission does not have to succeed in order for our investors to probably make a good return on their investments, I almost felt quilty about it.
I then realised that the fact that the mission does not have to succeed for financial success, actually increases the odds of the mission succeeding! Only a Mars One fan would invest if there is only a return on investment if the mission succeeds, but anyone can invest if it is not required! This clarity of vision actually makes it easier to attract capital and that increases the chance actually landing humans on Mars.
aktienfreak: How many shares of Mars One Ventures PLC do you own? How much money did you personally invest in your projext and why should others do the same once the trading of the shares started again?
BL: My wife and I hold just over 185m shares together. I do not disclose how much cash I have invested in Mars One. I sold part of my shares in my previous company, Ampyx Power, to have some starting capital for Mars One. I can tell that my biggest investment has been my time. I have worked full time for Mars One since March 2011 for a very minimal salary close to the Dutch minimum wage, because I believe in our mission and our business case.
Our current market cap is about €25m, much lower than the valuations of US$ 389m and US$ 505m that we received from independent auditors. Or put in another way: the last traded price was 5.2 cents per share, the lower valuation of the auditors would represent a share price of more than 60 cents per share. Even if we realize only part of that potential, it would be a great return on investment.
Fruthermore, the risk of the company is mitigated because the progress of the Mars mission in the first years is actually quite predictable: contracts with aerospace companies, adding high profile team members, starting the Mars settler training. 500 years from now, children will learn in their history books that human settled Mars in the 21st century: it will be one of the two or three events that define this century. This investment is a chance to become part of that – with the potential of making a good return on investment too.
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