Cambrios Clarifies Changes

Cambrios logoWe reported on the Cambrios liquidation and ‘re-birth’ as Cambrios Advanced Materials Corp last week and, as planned, we managed to catch up with past and current President & CEO Jon LeMoncheck to get something beyond the press release.

LeMoncheck told us that during the most recent round of investment at the end of 2015, a very significant customer commitment slipped back. The round was due to pay back debt (there was an $18 million note) and to provide working capital.

The delay made the lead investor nervous, as the dramatic collapse in ITO prices (from $60 per m² for 100 ?/sq to $20 or less) over the last has slowed down the opportunities for all of the “ITO replacement” technologies. Although the investor had been in for a long time, it worried about when it would see returns and pulled out. That made others nervous and the investment round effectively fell apart. That left Cambrios with a serious cash hole and it had no choice but to file for liquidation.

However, Michael Chiang, of Champ Great International (who is also Chairman and founder of TPK Holding and featured on the Forbes “World’s Richest People List” in 2013), was a past investor and still believed in the technology; he also sees himself as a ‘more patient’ investor. He, therefore, has put $18 million into buying the assets of the old company and authorising the recruitment of the previous team to keep the business going.

Key customers had been able to get some extra inventory, so there have been no problems with stopped production lines, LeMoncheck told us, and the new company has already shipped materials and raised invoices.

Existing relationships that we have reported on in the past, continue with CNI in China, Nissha in Japan and Hereaus. The Hereaus deal for special PDot material has a big opportunity, LeMoncheck believes, in organic photo-voltaics, especially with new zero energy building regulations coming in Europe and Japan. He was in Asia on a business trip when we spoke to him. We asked about the Nissha deal with C3Nano and Cambrios believes that this deal is partly to keep pressure on pricing. The firm is very confident about its IP and technology positions.

cambrios graphic

Looking to the future, Cambrios will focus on areas where it has unique advantages over ITO. Flexibility has been a long term advantage, and mid-range touch displays where ITO has trouble getting to 30-50 ?/sq. Here, the company sees a good opportunity to support stylus operation, especially on convertibles, where ITO struggles to meet the specs required. When pricing gets below $20 to $15 – $18 per m², then the battle between ITO and silver nanowire becomes “a horse race”, LeMoncheck told us.

Anyway, he concluded, although it has been a very turbulent period and he is sorry for his previous investors, now, he “couldn’t be happier” with a single patient investor with deep interest in the touch industry, although there are also plenty of opportunities in other markets. (BR)

Step 1 of 4