Autonomous shuttle Navya loses direction
It looks like French manufacturer of autonomous shuttles Navya has ‘lost direction’ as founder and chairman of the board Christophe Sapet was ousted as from Tuesday by the company’s surveillance board. At the same time four of the nine members of the board went off in a huff. CFO Frank Maccary was appointed chair temporarily.
Apparently the decision was enforced by major shareholder 360 Capital Partners Fund who owns 41,4% of the company. Something that was not to the liking of the other shareholders like French automotive supplier Valeo (14,3%) and public transport company Keolis (14,3%).
Four out of nine left the board
Both called back their representatives in the surveillance board, an example followed by two independent board members, bringing the total to leave to four out of nine.
According to Valeo “company governance at Navya is not conform to the rules of a stock exchange listed company and does not allow them to play their role in the board in these circumstances”. The same goes for bus company Keolis, daughter of French railways SNCF. But both will continue to work with Navya on the technical and operational field.
Losing 72% of its value
What exactly triggered the sudden decision wasn’t communicated officially. Apparently the fact that Navya lost 72% of its initial 185 million euro value since it went public in July and the company had to review beginning of December its previsions for 2018 from a turnover of 30 million euro to a mere 17 to 19 million, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Nevertheless Navya looked like a good example of a successful startup after developing its own fully autonomous driving electric shuttles, being in test on dedicated private terrains like university campuses, airports or convention centers in several cities in the word. In Belgium a Navya shuttle was used successfully in test for transporting tourists to the Caves of Han and on the Waterloo Battlefield.
With Christophe Sapet, ‘serial inventor’ an also founder of Infonie (telecom) and Infogrames Entertainment (video games), Navya loses its spiritual father who started in 2015 to commercialize the self-driving shuttles, capable of transporting 15 people of which 11 seated at a speed of 25 to 40 kph.
Ironically it was the 360 Capital Partners Fund which took over in 2016 the Robolution Fund that Sapet had set up with his co-founder at Infogrames Bruno Bonnell in the eighties and was used to finance Navya initially, who kicked him out.