SoftBank invests $2.8bn in warehouse automation company AutoStore

SoftBank are set to invest $2.8 billion for a 40 per cent stake in Autostore, a Norway-based warehouse automation specialist.

AutoStore, founded in 1996, develops a product it terms “cube storage automation” which enables robots to maximize storage space in warehouses.

The robotics company, based in a village near Bergen, Norway, currently boasts over 600 installations and 20,000 robots in use across 35 countries worldwide.
Autostore’s clients include multinational manufacturers Siemens and Panasonic and electronics retailer Best Buy.

SoftBank operate the Saudi-backed Vision Fund, the world’s largest technology investment fund, which owns large stakes in Slack, Uber, and e-commerce platform Flipkart.

The deal marks the latest in a series of investments in logistics automation technology by the Japanese conglomerate.

SoftBank purchased a stake in US warehouse robotics company Berkshire Grey in 2019, while the Vision Fund also funded US logistics tech company Flock Freight and India-based logistics start-up Delhivery.

Softbank will purchase the stake from US private equity group Thomas H Lee Partners (THL) and Swedish private equity company EQT, at a valuation of $7.7 billion.

THL will continue as the majority shareholder, and Softbank will take a seat on AutoStore’s board of directors.

The deal is expected to be finalised by the end of this month.

“We view AutoStore as a foundational technology that enables rapid and cost-effective logistics for companies around the globe,” said Masayoshi Son, chairman and chief executive at SoftBank. “We look forward to working with AutoStore to aggressively expand across end markets and geographies.”

Karl Johan Lier, chief executive at AutoStore, said: “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.”

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