SoftBank has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire 40% of Norwegian robotics technology company AutoStore.
The acquisition will use some US$2.8bn (£2bn) in funds affiliated with Thomas H Lee Partners (THL) and EQT Private Equity (EQT), among other shareholders, valuing AutoStore at US$7.7bn (£5.5bn).
THL will continue to be AutoStore’s majority shareholder and THL, SoftBank and EQT will each have representatives on AutoStore’s board of directors.
AutoStore currently has a global customer base with more than 600 installations and 20,000 robots across 35 countries.
SoftBank’s acquisition will help to accelerate AutoStore’s global expansion, with particular emphasis on the Asia Pacific region.
Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of SoftBank Group, said: “We view AutoStore as a foundational technology that enables rapid and cost-effective logistics for companies around the world.
“We look forward to working with AutoStore to aggressively expand across end markets and geographies.”
AutoStore’s automated storage and retrieval systems, coupled with its proprietary software, are designed to provide customers with high throughput, enhanced configurability and high levels of flexibility to support today’s supply chains.
Its cubic design allows customers to either store four times the inventory in the same space, or all of their existing inventory in 25% of the space.
The company’s solutions serve a range of markets including e-commerce, grocery, industrial, and healthcare in warehouses, retail locations and other facilities.
Karl Johan Lier, president and CEO of 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.”
The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to be completed this month.