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Taiwanese scooter brand Gogoro makes Nasdaq debut in rare IPO

A woman charges battery of her electric scooter at the Gogoro's charging station in Taipei

Taiwan’s electric scooter maker Gogoro debuted on the Nasdaq stock exchange in New York on Tuesday, a rare initial public offering (IPO) for the self-ruled island known for its dominance in semiconductors.

Gogoro’s stock market debut is just the third US listing by a Taiwanese firm in the past five years, according to Bloomberg, putting it in the ranks of chipmaker TSMC, which controls more than half of the global market for made-to-order chips.

The firm hopes to raise $335m after last week sealing a merger with special acquisition company Poema Global Holdings Corporation that values the company at more than $2.3bn.

Gogoro, which was founded in 2011 and counts former US Vice President Al Gore among its early backers, is best known for its innovative battery swap programme that eliminates the need for drivers to charge their electric scooters with a wall socket.

Gogoro manufactures scooters for purchase outright, as well as renting the vehicles through a ride-share subscription programme it operates in Taiwan called “GoShare”.

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The firm, which says it powers 97 percent of electric two-wheelers in Taiwan, earlier this year manufactured its one-millionth smart battery and has facilitated more than 275 million battery swaps to date, according to a company press release last month.

Gogoro has also expanded the reach of its battery programme by partnering with would-be competitors across Asia, according to company information. Outside Taiwan, the firm has signed deals to partner with Indonesia’s Gojek, India’s Hero MotoCorp, Japan’s Yamaha, and China’s Yadea and Dachangjiang Group.

‘Blank cheque companies’

Special acquisition companies, known as “SPACs” or “blank cheque companies” like Poema Global are shell companies set up by investors to raise money through an IPO for purpose of acquiring an existing company.

SPACs raise funds from investors without specifying how the money that is raised will be used. Poema Global is a subsidiary of the investment fund Princeville Capital, which focuses on European and Asian software and climate tech companies.

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“The benefit of doing a SPAC for us was that our story is relatively complicated,” Gogoro chief financial officer Bruce Aitken told Al Jazeera, as the company is “fully vertically integrated and pretty broad and pretty deep”.

“Typically, in an IPO, we don’t get much of an opportunity to really educate your partners about that story,” Aitken said.

Previous investors in Gogoro’s Series C funding included Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management and Singapore’s Temasek state investment fund.

Following Gogoro’s listing, more Taiwanese tech companies plan to follow suit through SPAC listings, including the cryptocurrency exchange MaiCoin and AI and the intelligence company Gorilla Technology Group, according to Bloomberg.

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