Martin Jetpack's International Production Venture

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New Zealand's Martin Aircraft Company says it has signed a $12 million joint venture with an "international aircraft company" that aims to make the Martin Jetpack a commercially available product, but details remain unresolved. The partner is yet unnamed, but would be licensed to manufacture Martin Jetpacks only in its native country (also yet unnamed). Final details of the deal, like the location of the production facility, intellectual property and branding matters, also must still be finalized. But under the deal, a new company would be formed, and Martin's unnamed partner would hold a 51-percent stake. Martin would become a supplier, selling parts to the joint-venture company. Lauder and Jetpack inventor Glenn Martin would serve as directors of that company. Martin will retain the international patent and is still looking for other international partners. The joint company's near-term goal would be for the sale of 500 units, bringing in $100 million, within three years. Says Lauder, Martin's portion of that (as a supplier) would "give us a lifeline, but it doesn't give us the sort of venture capital we need."

Last December, Martin sought $10 to $25 million in investor support, saying it would need the money within the next three months to develop the Martin Jetpack for commercial production. It found no investors, locally. But the new deal has offered the company hope. "We have somebody who is willing to put $12 million on the table because they believe there is a sizeable market in their country," said Lauder. Martin says the Jetpack is capable of flying at 8,000 feet and reaching speeds of about 60 miles per hour, but "further safety testing is required before it's ready for commercial production." The deal brings some financial relief to the cash-strapped Martin Aircraft Company, but does not provide the cash infusion needed to fund its larger international ambitions.

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