SoftBank, the telecommunications giant which has huge investments in the robotics sector, is to acquire a large stake in AutoStore, a robotics and software company that specialises in automated storage and retrieval systems for warehouses.
SoftBank has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire 40 percent of AutoStore from funds affiliated with Thomas H. Lee Partners and EQT Private Equity, among other shareholders.
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 blue-chip customer base with more than 600 installations and 20,000 robots across 35 countries.
Its automated storage and retrieval systems, coupled with its proprietary software, provide customers with high throughput, enhanced configurability and high levels of flexibility to serve the increasing demands of today’s supply chains.
AutoStore’s innovative cubic design allows customers to either store four times the inventory in the same space, or all of their existing inventory in 25 percent of the space.
AutoStore says its solutions “redefine space”, enabling it to serve a range of markets as diverse as e-commerce, grocery, industrial, and healthcare in any warehouse, retail location or other facility.
Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of SoftBank Group, says: “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.”
Karl Johan Lier, president and CEO of AutoStore, says: “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.”
Jim Carlisle, AutoStore’s chairman and managing director at THL, and Mike Kaczmarek, managing director at THL, jointly released a statement saying: “We believe the SoftBank partnership, in support of Karl Johan and the fantastic team at AutoStore, will help accelerate growth and unlock AutoStore’s massive potential.
“We are thrilled to welcome SoftBank as our new partner and are very excited for what the future holds for AutoStore.”
The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to be completed this month, in April 2021.