Kicking off 2024 with a major move, German large-scale 3D printer manufacturer BigRep plans to become a publicly listed company by merging with Luxembourg-based special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) SMG Technology Acceleration SE (Xetra: 7GG). While the deal was unveiled last year, it is expected to be finalized in the first quarter of 2024. This strategic decision will also include the acquisition of competing big-size industrial additive manufacturing (AM) specialist HAGE3D from Austria. Valuing the combined company at around €157 million ($172 million), the merger positions BigRep for significant market expansion. Led by BigRep Managing Director Sven Thate and CFO Reinhard Festag, the new brand will bring together a team of experts boasting over 400 years of combined experience in AM.
According to the transaction details, BigRep has a well-planned and strategic move towards growth and market consolidation that involves using the SPAC framework, a method enabling companies to go public with less regulatory scrutiny than a traditional Initial Public Offering (IPO). This approach gained significant popularity, with over 450 SPAC merger deals between 2021 and 2022. However, the market for SPACs saw a decline in late 2022, a change that coincided with increased regulatory scrutiny and rising interest rates. Despite this downturn, it seems the AM industry continues to explore SPAC deals as a viable option for going public, as evidenced by this latest transaction.
Once SMG shareholders approve the deal, BigRep is set to become a publicly listed company trading on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, the world’s third oldest and twelfth largest stock exchange by market capitalization. Under the agreement, BigRep and HAGE3D’s shareholders will exchange their shares for SMG’s, with SMG and partners, as part of a Private Investment in Public Equity (PIPE) arrangement, adding over €30 million ($33 million). This financial injection, a key merger component, will unite BigRep, HAGE3D, and SMG into one larger company, including shareholders from all three groups.
Established in 2014, BigRep has created high-quality, German-engineered 3D printers, intelligent software solutions, and various materials catering to diverse industrial needs. The company’s open-system philosophy allows customers the flexibility to use both BigRep materials and third-party options, a unique feature that sets BigRep apart in the market. The brand’s success is evident in its widespread adoption across various sectors. With over 800 of its large-format AM systems installed globally, BigRep has a broad client base that includes major automotive and aerospace companies, manufacturing firms, educational institutions, and innovative startups. Some of its notable customers include industry giants like Ford, Airbus, Deutsche Bahn, and Canyon.
The technology behind BigRep’s printers primarily focuses on the material extrusion of thermoplastic polymers, a method widely recognized and used in the AM industry. This approach, favored for its accuracy, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness, enables BigRep to produce large industrial parts and smaller batches. The company’s printers are known for their large-scale capabilities, providing practical solutions for industrial applications.
“We are convinced that additive manufacturing is more than a trend, it is a paradigm shift in industrial manufacturing. Driven by digitalization, individualization, a shift towards sustainable production methods, and reshoring to improve supply chain resilience, the total AM market already comprises around EUR 17 billion in 2022. Put into perspective, this only contributes around 0.1% to the total value-added manufacturing market and therefore allows significant room for growth as a complimentary technology to traditional manufacturing methods. Against that backdrop, market analysts expect continued strong, double-digit growth rates in our sweet spot, the technology segment of industrial polymer extrusion,” indicated BigRep’s Managing Director Sven Thate.
Financially, BigRep has shared data that shows a compound annual growth rate of approximately 18% between 2020 and June 2023, outperforming the overall polymer industrial AM market. In 2022, BigRep reported revenues of €9.1 million ($10 million), up from €7.6 million ($8.3 million) in 2021, with a gross margin above 50%. This financial success is supported by a strong global presence, with significant revenue shares coming from North America, EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa), and the APAC (Asia-Pacific) region. Despite these successes, BigRep’s EBITDA remained negative in 2022 due to significant investments in R&D and global expansion, but the company aims to break even financially by 2026.
As part of its growth strategy, BigRep says its focusing on a buy-and-build approach. This involves acquiring companies with complementary technologies and market positions, as demonstrated by the planned acquisition of HAGE3D. This Austrian company is known for its expertise in large-format medium and high-temperature fused filament fabrication (FFF) systems, which will enrich BigRep’s product portfolio and market reach.
Thomas Janics, Managing Director of HAGE3D, remarks, “As HAGE3D, we had significant growth in the last few years in Germany and Austria and based on our almost 200 customers using our large format printer, we bring in a strong local base. With BigRep and HAGE3D, we are joining forces that are showing similar strong growth rates and complement each other both technologically and regionally. In the last full financial year, we already generated revenues in the low single-digit million Euro range. We are convinced that we will be able to further accelerate our joint growth rate as part of a listed Combined Company.”
BigRep’s journey towards becoming a publicly listed company through its business combination with SMG and the acquisition of HAGE3D represents a new chapter for BigRep, which could strengthen its position as a provider of open AM solutions in Europe and beyond.
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