(Reuters) -SoftBank Group Corp has agreed to buy a 40% stake in AutoStore for $2.8 billion, the Norway-based robotics firm said on Monday, in yet another big investment by the conglomerate in warehouse automation technology that optimizes e-commerce operations.
The Japanese company will acquire the stake from funds affiliated with AutoStore’s majority shareholder Thomas H. Lee (THL) Partners and other investors including EQT (NYSE:) Private Equity, valuing the firm at $7.7 billion.
Founded in 1996, AutoStore has 20,000 robots deployed across 35 countries and counts Puma, Best Buy and Siemens among its customers. The company also touts a design method that allows customers to store four times the inventory in the same space in a warehouse.
Such technology enables e-commerce companies to deliver packages faster and more economically, as online shopping has surged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
SoftBank in January last year took part in a $263 million funding round in Berkshire Grey, which develops artificial intelligence-based logistics automation systems used by its customers – Walmart (NYSE:) Inc, Target Corp (NYSE:) and FedEx Corp (NYSE:) – in their warehouses and distribution centers.
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