SoftBank Group to Acquire 40% of Robotics and Software Company AutoStore

By McKenzie Carpenter Tuesday, April 6, 2021

International investment business, SoftBank Group announced on Monday it will be acquiring 40% of AutoStore, a robotics and software company, for $2.8 billion.

SoftBank Flagship store in Tokyo, Japan.

About Each Business

SoftBank Group is a Japanese investment company that invests in startup companies and businesses in the AI technology sector, telecommunications, energy, fintech, and more. The investment company also runs a Vision Fund that has become the world’s largest technology-focused venture capital fund. SoftBank Group and the SoftBank Vision Fund have invested in startup companies and businesses like SoFi, WeWork, Lemonade, T-Mobile, DoorDash, Slack, Uber, and many, many more.

In addition, the investment business also runs a Latin American Fund and Opportunity Fund for startup companies in Latin America and those owned by Black, Latin, or Native American people. According to Google Finance, the investment company is worth an estimated ¥20.65 trillion (about $187 billion). Startup Savant reported in February that SoftBank Group profited $11 billion in the last quarter of 2020.

Founded in 1996, AutoStore is a Norwegian robotics and software company that invented Cube Storage Automation as a way to increase warehousing space through cubic design. According to the business, the automated storage and retrieval system reduces the storage footprint by 75% when compared to traditional storage space. Additionally, AutoStore has several big-name clients such as Puma, John Deere, Bosch, Johnson & Johnson, Best Buy, Panasonic, Lufthansa, and more.

SoftBank Group Acquisition of AutoStore

On Monday, AutoStore announced that SoftBank Group will acquire 40% of the robotics and software company for $2.8 billion, giving AutoStore a $7.7 billion valuation. Thomas H. Lee Partners will remain as the majority stakeholder in the robotics and software business and will have representatives on the board of directors alongside EQT Private Equity and SoftBank Group. In addition, as part of the deal, SoftBank will be looking to globally expand AutoStore with a particular focus on the Asia-Pacific region.

CNBC reported the robotics and software business has deployed 20,000 robots at 600 sites in 35 countries, allowing customers to store four times their inventory in the same warehouse space or all of their existing inventory in 25% of the space.

Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of the investment company, said in the press release, “We view AutoStore as a foundational technology that enables rapid and cost-effective logistics for companies around the globe. We look forward to working with AutoStore to aggressively expand across end markets and geographies.”

The deal is expected to be completed in April 2021 and is subject to customary closing conditions.

Karl Johan Lier, president and CEO of AutoStore, added in the press release, “We are delighted for SoftBank to join the AutoStore team as we continue on our journey to automate all commerce and deliver best-in-class automation solutions to our customers. Our world-class investor group brings exceptional experience from multiple geographies, and we are thrilled to have SoftBank’s leadership and support on a global scale, but particularly with our vision for growth in Asia-Pacific.”

About the Author

Headshot of McKenzie Carpenter

McKenzie Carpenter is a graduate of Central Michigan University with a B.A.A. in Integrative Public Relations and French. McKenzie has previously worked for small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

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