Helbiz’s Wheels acquisition fails to impress investors • TechCrunch

Helbiz’s deal to buy Wheels has officially gone through, and with it some promises from the shared micromobility operator to its investors that the tie up will double its annual revenue and help it reach profitability.

Helbiz is hardly the only shared micromobility operator battling to achieve profitability. It’s a situation that most companies in this volatile industry are in today. Helbiz has arguably a tougher road ahead. The company has been facing down a delisting from the Nasdaq for trading way below the $1.00 per share minimum. Bird, the only other publicly traded micromobility company, is facing a similar delisting risk.

Helbiz appears to be using the Wheels acquisition as a lifeline.

However, Wall Street — at least based on the Helbiz share price — isn’t impressed with the company’s promise to deliver “over $25 million in revenue for the full year of 2022,” tap into Wheels’ user base of 5 million riders and expand into new markets like Los Angeles.

Investors seem to be taking a negative view. Helbiz shares fell 8.10% on Tuesday to close at $0.28. The share price has fallen some 65% since it initially made its acquisition announcement. But that drop is nothing compared to freefall it has experienced since its opening debut in August 2021 of $10.20. In order to regain Nasdaq compliance, Helbiz has to find a way to increase its stock price 257% for a minimum of 10 consecutive trading days prior to January 16, 2023.

Why investors didn’t take the bait? Perhaps it’s the company’s dwindling cash reserves, as of the company’s second quarter earnings report, its ambitious positive gross profit margin target or its restructuring plans.

Helbiz CFO Giulio Profumo said the combined company expects to achieve positive gross profit margin within the next nine months and to achieve profitability at the operating level within the next 24 months. It seems Helbiz is counting on restructuring to help it reach that target.

“We intend to restructure the combined company to accelerate our path to profitability by a combination of higher margin from the Wheels business, operational savings from redundancies across both companies, and reductions in the cost of revenue,” Profumo said.

We’ve seen that kind of language before — Bird made similar comments were made before laying off 23% of its staff and exiting dozens of markets across the world, as did Tier before laying off 10% of Spin’s workforce.

Around the time Helbiz signed its intent to acquire Wheels, Wheels furloughed a handful of employees. Since then, the company has laid off many of those employees, according to one source familiar with the matter, but a Helbiz spokesperson told TechCrunch some of the furloughed Wheels employees have been brought back. He also said that nothing has been planned in terms of layoffs yet.

“There are gaps that each company fills in the other and we will use that for efficiency and cost saving,” said Matt Rosenberg, Helbiz’s North America head of communications.

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