Royale Gets a US$240m Cash Infusion
October 3, 2017
While Royale Corporation has its HQ based in Silicon Valley, the panel producer also has offices in Hong Kong, and Shenzhen, and the financing that was just completed is to pay for a $1.7b 6th Gen plant in China that is expected to produce flexible OLED displays, flexible sensors and R&D in keeping with the company’s 12/2014 announcement of the development of the world’s thinnest flexible OLED display, which is .01mm, or less that 1/5 the width of a human hair. But while Royale is an OLED panel producer, the name does not turn up regularly in the CE press or on the display tech pages as do others., so we shine a bit of light on the company to acquaint investors with the inner workings of this relatively new panel producer.
Royale, a Chinese panel maker that was started by a group of Stanford graduates led by Dr. Bill Liu who graduated Tsinghua University in 2006 with a BS and MS and joined the Bao Research Group at Stanford, led by University of Chicago graduate and Professor of Chemical Engineering, Zhenan Bao, a former Bell labs and Lucent technologies employee with over 400 published articles and over 60 patents. The group, a collection of Ph.D. and Postdoctoral scholars, particularly interested in nano and chemical engineering, was spun off in Royale Corp in 2013. The company is focused on developing flexible displays and sensors, but has received some notoriety for both its ultra-thin flexible OLED displays and its Moon VR headset, and the company’s hiring of Akon, a Grammy nominated singer, songwriter, and record producer with 17 platinum certified records, to help promote the VR product. The company’s financing was started back in 2015 with a $172m Series C round with three funding groups, Shenzhen based VC, Green Pine, Beijing based IDG Ventures, and Shenzhen Capital, all legitimate Chinese VCs. Warmsun Holding Group, an unlisted company with only one investment, did the 2nd round, an $80m Series D with a $2.9B valuation. The 3rd financing round, just completed, was split between a $240m (unknown valuation) series D and $560m in debt financing. The VD portion was financed by a number of funding organizations, most of whom are single investment entities with unlisted locations, other than the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank and the debt side ($560m) was financed by 5 Chinese banks, including the State owned BOC and the Shenzhen based Ping An Bank. Royale is a Chinese company, despite its Silicon Valley nameplate, and the money raised will be primarily spent in China to develop the manufacturing facilities in Shenzhen.
The mixed-use production facility being built by Royale will be based on LTPS backplane technology and a Gen 5.5 flexible OLED production line with a capacity of 45,000 sheets/month, and the production line will be built in at least two phases. Flexible sensor development and production will also take place at the new facility, and further development and production of the VR displays used in the Moon product will be built on the OLED line. The ultra-thin flexible OLED display that Royale has shown at recent exhibitions has been limited to small-scale production, but once the new facility is completed, the display could be produced for consumer applications, either as a built-in public/private display or in an existing application such as a smartphone.