SoftBank snaps up $2.eight billion stake in Norway robotics agency


Japanese investment giant SoftBank has agreed to pay $ 2.8 billion for a 40 percent stake in Norwegian warehouse automation company AutoStore.

SoftBank SFTBY (+ 4.87%) will buy the stake from the US buyout group Thomas H. Lee Partners and the Swedish company EQT EQT (-4.54%). AutoStore is valued at $ 7.7 billion, including debt, the two companies said in a statement late Monday.

SoftBank 9984, -1.12% and its Investment Fund investment portfolio have placed a number of bets on robotics and artificial intelligence over the past several years that it believes are key to driving innovation and business opportunity in sectors such as automated deliveries and driving are.

Read: SoftBank relies on cargo shipping technology

In December 2020, Softbank’s Vision Fund 2 ran a $ 113.5 million round of funding for San Diego-based logistics technology company Flock Freight that uses algorithms to match trucks with freight going in the same direction.

More recently, SoftBank-backed robotics company Berkshire Gray agreed to go public through a merger with a blank check company – Revolution Acceleration Acquisition Corp. RAAC (+ 0.79%) – logistics automation systems appear to be from a surge in the Benefit from online shopping amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

AutoStore was founded in 1996 and is known for its “Cube Storage Automation”, with which robots can maximize storage space in warehouses. The company says it has used 20,000 robots in 35 countries. Its customers include the German conglomerate Siemens SIE (+ 0.68%),
The Japanese manufacturer Panasonic 6752, -1.30% and the US electronics retailer Best Buy BBY, + 1.93%.,
according to his website.

According to AutoStore, its technology allows customers to expand storage capacity four times without moving. This enables e-commerce companies to deliver parcels faster and more cheaply, as online shopping has increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read: Home delivery drives FedEx revenue to over $ 20 billion, and profits nearly tripled

“We see AutoStore as a fundamental technology that enables fast, affordable logistics for companies around the world,” said Masayoshi Son, Chairman and CEO of SoftBank.

The two companies will work together to “aggressively expand across end markets and regions,” he added.

Karl Johan Lier, managing director of AutoStore, said the deal with SoftBank would help fuel growth in the Asia Pacific region.

After investing in SoftBank, Thomas H. Lee Partners remains the majority shareholder in Autostore. The deal is expected to close this month.

Read: SoftBank posts a profit of $ 11.12 billion in the third quarter

In a separate deal on Monday, SoftBank made a $ 1.15 billion investment in genetic testing company Invitae Corp NVTA, + 3.09%.,
The Japanese conglomerate is expanding its portfolio of biotech and life science companies.

The San Francisco-based Invitae investment announced on Monday was made by SoftBank’s asset management group SB Management, which poured $ 900 million into California-based DNA sequencing company Pacific Biosciences in February.

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