OIO decision reveals Apple paid more than $100m for NZ's PowerbyProxi

The Overseas Investment Office has approved Apple's purchase of PowerbyProxi – the Auckland maker of wireless charging technology for everything from smartphones to industrial components. 

The OIO rubber stamp was widely expected but its brief ruling does have one nugget of new information. It says the price paid by Apple exceeds $100 million.

How much more? Industry rumours have run up to $200 million. Neither Apple nor PowerbyProxi has commented.

Ahead of the Apple buyout, VC fund Movac is the largest PowerbyProxi shareholder on 20%, followed by PowerbyProxi chief executive Fady Mishriki (18%), US company TE Connectivity, NBR Rich Lister John Holdsworth (11%) a consortium of investors including Rich Lister and Movac co-founder Phil McCaw (10%) and Samsung (10%). Smaller investors include The Icehouse and Ice Angels (both 1%).

Samsung paid $US4 million for its 10% stake back in 2013, valuing the company at $US40 million at the time.

Co-founded by Mr Mishriki in 2007, PowerbyProxi was born out of Uniservices, the commercialisation arm of Auckland University, had a 3% stake ahead of the Apple buyout. Although its technology is still in the early stages of commercialisation, it has secured 350 patents.

'Good character'
The OIO decision notes: "The applicant has satisfied the OIO that the individuals who will control the investment have the relevant business experience and acumen and are of good character [unlike Matt Lauer]. The applicant has also demonstrated financial commitment to the investment."

Apple, which added wireless charging to its iPhone lineup with its new iPhone X, is due to release its own wireless charging station next year. 

The company says it intends to maintain PowerbyProxi's Auckland office. 

Crown agency Callaghan Innovation, which has extended a matching R&D grant to PowerbyProxi that runs through to 2019 worth up to $25 million, says it is in talks with Apple. Callaghan's recent contracts have a clawback clause if an offshore buyer does not keep R&D inside New Zealand. So while taxpayers might not get to see the profits created by the intellectual property they helped bankroll, but they will see jobs.

And they will see some giving back. Since the PowerbyProxi sale, Movac has announced a $7 million investment in Dunedin software startup Timely.

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