Startup Rivian Automotive, created by Nissan engineers, hopes to go public in Q3

Rivian Automotive has moved a step closer to an initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter, aiming to get a valuation around $25 billion or more.

The startup is seeking an IPO valuing the company at about $50 billion, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. Rivian plans to file paperwork for the IPO next week with the goal of bringing the deal to market in the third quarter, said the person.

Rivian had hired JPMorgan Chase & Co. and UBS Group AG to advise on an IPO, people familiar with the matter said earlier. They’ve hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to work on the sale of Rivian shares, that people said, asking not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

A banker at one of the firms who’s dealing with Rivian said the company was in the middle of its IPO process. A spokeswoman for JPMorgan declined to comment. Silver Lake Management is in charge of the IPO and is seeking financial backing from its investment funds and other investors, people familiar with the matter said. Andrew Siegel, an investor at Silver Lake, declined to comment. A spokesman for Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

Rivian is in the process of developing a two-seat electric SUV that’s packed with technology that its founders hope will allow them to one day replace larger models. The three-year-old company has worked on its vehicles from the beginning, cutting together 3D-printed parts for a lightweight body and materials like Kevlar to make it more crash-tested. The company builds much of its equipment at a facility in St. Louis that also employs hydrogen fuel cell engineers.

The biggest automakers have also embraced innovations like laser-based headlights and voice controls that could serve as the future of vehicle design. Detroit-based Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV rolled out semi-autonomous tech with Chrysler Pacifica minivans that feature pedestrian detection and adaptive cruise control.

As part of the IPO process, Rivian has begun speaking with dealers about introducing the automaker’s vehicles to market, a move that would help ease the company’s entry into the automotive industry. In 2012, Rivian, LLC, was founded by former Nissan Motor Co. engineers Chris Lavis and Chad Salmons.

The company’s 2014 debut was delayed by legal costs. Rivian sued what it alleged was a freelance pollster, and after the defendant declined to pay, the company said the case would be thrown out. It then claimed that the majority of pollsters used by Rivian refused to survey the company. The case was eventually settled out of court.

Rivian only sold one model, the R1T, in a splashy presentation at a small Texas museum last April. The SUV’s full features and price were revealed the following month at an event in Michigan.

— With assistance from David Hellier, Anousha Sakoui, and Ryan Beene.

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