Superinvestor takes a giant bite out of Norwegian industrial adventure.
Softbank Group pays 2.8 billion dollars, over 23 billion kroner, for 40 percent of Autostore. It appears in a press release on Monday night.
On the phone to Nettavisen Økonomi on Tuesday morning, CEO Karl Johan Lier says that the Japanese giant fund will be an active owner.
– They are known to be active owners, and they will join our board. We envisage further growth in Asia, which will contribute very positively to our further development, says Lier to Nettavisen.
The acquisition means that Autostore is valued at around NOK 65 billion.
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Arouses attention in Japan
The Norwegian robot company has had enormous success, and has big names such as Siemens, Puma, Lufthansa and Gucci on the customer list.
As Nettavisen reported in March, Norwegian Autostore has previously attracted the attention of Japanese journalists and investors. When the Rogalendings presented a groundbreaking innovation center on Karmøy, Autostore created its own press event in Tokyo with 21 Japanese journalists.
– There has been a lot of attention in Japan, but with Softbank as owner, we get even more attention. The Japanese market is largest in Asia, so it is clear that it is important to be there, says CEO Lier to Nettavisen.
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Contacted after investor presentation
The Autostore manager holds the cards close to his chest when he talks about how the agreement came about, but says that Softbank contacted the Autostore owners THL and EQT after seeing a presentation of the company.
– We have many presentations in various investment forums, and after one of these, Softbank became interested. That was some time ago, and I do not know what presentation it was about, says Lier.
– What does this acquisition mean for Autostore’s direction further?
– It is always nice and exciting with such acquisitions. We are in a market that will grow strongly in the years to come, and I think we fit in well with a development with more urbanization and robotisation, says Lier.
Billionaire and entrepreneur Jakob Hatteland sold the “unicorn” Autostore in 2017, after building the company since 1996. Autostore has installed close to 600 systems in more than 30 countries for a wide range of industries
Today, the company has warehouses in 30 countries and has offices in the USA, Great Britain, France, Japan, Poland – and Nedre Vats in Rogaland.
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The Japanese Softbank group specializes in investments in cutting-edge technology in digital solutions, artificial intelligence, robotics and renewable energy.
Five years ago, the Softbank Vision Fund was launched, which today invests hundreds of billions of dollars in digital infrastructure, financial technology and robotics.
Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son said in a press release on Monday night that the fund considers Autostore as a basic technology that will provide fast and cost-effective logistics worldwide.
– We look forward to working with Autostore to aggressively expand across markets and countries, Son says in the report.
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