Alessandro Di Ciommo | NurPhoto | Getty Pictures
LONDON – Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank has acquired 40% of Norwegian warehouse automation agency AutoStore for $2.8 billion.
The information was first reported by The Wall Road Journal on Monday and later confirmed by AutoStore in an replace on its web site.
The deal values AutoStore, which was integrated in 1996, at $7.7 billion.
SoftBank, which has made a string of investments into e-commerce and robotics over the previous few years, is shopping for the stake from U.S. non-public fairness group Thomas H Lee Companions and Swedish enterprise capital agency EQT.
“We view AutoStore as a foundational expertise that permits fast and cost-effective logistics for firms across the globe,” stated SoftBank CEO and founder Masayoshi Son in a press release.
He added: “We look ahead to working with AutoStore to aggressively develop throughout finish markets and geographies.”
Based by Ingvar Hognaland and headquartered in a village close to Bergen referred to as Nedre Vats, AutoStore has developed what it calls “dice storage automation,” which permits robots to maximise space for storing in warehouses.
It says that it has deployed 20,000 of its robots at 600 websites throughout 35 nations and that its expertise permits clients to both retailer 4 instances the stock in the identical area, or all of their current stock in 25% of the area. AutoStore clients embody the likes of U.S. electronics retailer Greatest Purchase, Swedish telco Siemens, and British grocery chain Asda.
Karl Johan Lier, president and CEO of AutoStore, stated in a press release that SoftBank’s backing will assist it to develop within the Asia-Pacific area.
Investing sooner or later
SoftBank’s Son believes that machines will outsmart human within the subsequent 30 years.
Via the SoftBank Imaginative and prescient Fund, the billionaire has pumped huge quantities of capital into firms like Arm, Unbelievable, and Mind Corp as a part of an effort to make sure SoftBank has a monetary stake in corporations which can be engaged on next-generation applied sciences.
SoftBank has additionally snapped up shares in a number of logistics firms that may enhance provide chains for e-commerce giants like Alibaba, which SoftBank also has a stake in.
For example, SoftBank backed U.S. warehouse robotics group Berkshire Grey in 2019. The logistics automation systems provider announced in February that it is going public through a merger with blank-check company Revolution Acceleration Acquisition Corp in a deal that values the combined company at $2.7 billion.
Nathan Benaich, a venture capital investor with a focus on artificial intelligence, told CNBC that the pandemic has clearly been a “boon” for warehouse logistics and fulfilment companies as they’re the “backbone of online commerce.”
“AutoStore, amongst peers like Berkshire Grey, Ocado Robotics, and 6 River Systems, are almost 10-20 year ‘overnight’ success stores in robotics,” he said. “They’ve quietly been building out their capabilities and warehouse footprint over that time and are now aggressively capturing today’s surging customer demand.”