Perth-based advanced technology group Quickstep Holdings Limited (“Quickstep”; proposed ASX Code: QHL) has this weekend launched its A$6 million public share offer, bringing to the public arena a unique investment opportunity in the worldwide commercialisation of an innovative Australian composites manufacturing technology with application in the multi-billion dollar aerospace and automotive industries.
Composites combine high strength with light weight and are key materials in aerospace, automotive, marine, defence, public transport and industrial applications. The global composites parts market is growing strongly, reflecting a shift towards the greater use of composites as an increasingly desirable replacement for metals in many applications because of their high strength and reduced weight.
Quickstep has been at the leading edge of this process since the early 1990s, with its existing shareholders having already invested over $4.0 million in the development of the patented Quickstep Process – an advanced composites component manufacturing technology developed in Perth, WA that has attracted widespread international interest because of its potential to significantly reduce the cost of parts produced from advanced composite materials.
Quickstep already has fully automated Quickstep pilot production facilities operating at three separate locations with Toyota Motor Corporation in Nagoya, Japan, the Victorian Centre for Advanced Materials Manufacturing (VCAMM) in Geelong, and the Northern Aerospace Technology Exploitation Centre (NATEC) in Manchester, England in conjunction with the University of Manchester and UK-based aerospace and technology giant BAE Systems.
Global alliances are also in place with major international advanced materials suppliers such as Toray Composites (in the USA and Japan) and German-based industrial chemicals and performance materials giant Degussa AG, alongside R&D and Applications Development Agreements with groups such as VCAMM.
Quickstep lodged a Prospectus with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) on 17 August 2005 for the issue of up to 24 million shares at an issue price of 25 cents per share to raise up to A$6 million. Perth-based State One Stockbroking Ltd is Sponsoring Broker to the issue. Participation in the IPO has already been secured by a number of local institutions and offshore investors.
The offer closes on 23 September 2005, with listing on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) scheduled for early October. On listing, Quickstep will have approximately 114 million shares on issue (assuming full subscription) giving it a market capitalisation of around $28 million.
The funds raised through the IPO will be used to accelerate Quickstep’s already well advanced global commercialisation programme, including the further expansion of its growing portfolio of alliances, the establishment of additional production facilities and the development of multiple income streams by licensing its technology to major Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s) and Tier One suppliers to the global automotive, aerospace, defence, marine, wind energy and general industrial markets.
The Quickstep Process was invented and developed by Perth’s Graham family over the past decade and comprises a patented suite of technologies that use fluid curing for manufacturing composites. The high level of control inherent in the Process means it is able to produce composites components much faster and more cost effectively, with better production tolerances, than conventional high-temperature, high-pressure autoclave manufacturing processes.
The high capital equipment, labour and tooling costs of these processes have traditionally presented a barrier to the more widespread use of composites – a barrier which the Quickstep Process can overcome by dramatically reducing these costs, while significantly shortening cycle times in the production of parts with equivalent or better product performance to aerospace quality standards. To date the use of advanced composites has largely been confined to high-specification aerospace and automotive applications.
During its development over the past 10 years, the Quickstep Process has benefited from the technical input and scientific review of its products from Australia’s largest public sector research and development institution, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
Quickstep launched its first fully functioning Quickstep production unit at the Company’s facilities in the Perth industrial suburb of Canning Vale in 2002, and has since greatly expanded its process development programs through participation with a number of major international companies. Three additional production facilities are now operational in Japan (Toyota), the United Kingdom (NATEC) and Australia (VCAMM, Geelong, Victoria).