Press Release | Technology & Business Solutions (TABS)

SoftBank to Acquire 40% of AutoStore: Investment Reinforces AutoStore’s Global Automation Leadership

  • SoftBank to acquire 40% of AutoStore for $2.8 billion, valuing AutoStore at a $7.7 billion enterprise value
  • SoftBank accelerates AutoStore’s global expansion, with particular emphasis on the Asia Pacific region, and complements leading automation investor base
  • Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. continues to be AutoStore’s majority shareholder

Nedre Vats, Norway, April 5, 2021 – AutoStore, a leading global robotics and software company, today announced that SoftBank has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire 40% of AutoStore from funds affiliated with Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. (“THL”) and EQT Private Equity (“EQT”), 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% of the space. AutoStore’s solutions thus “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 & CEO of SoftBank Group Corp. said: “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 & 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.”

Jim Carlisle, AutoStore’s Chairman of the Board and Managing Director at THL, and Mike Kaczmarek, Managing Director at THL, said: “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.

About AutoStore

Founded in 1996, AutoStore is a robotics technology company that invented and continues to pioneer Cube Storage Automation, the densest storage technology. Its focus is to combine software and hardware with human capabilities to further develop the future of efficient warehouses. In all, more than 20,000 AutoStore robots are currently deployed in over 600 installations across 35 countries. Sales, designs, and installations are carried out by a network of qualified integrators who are its partners. Its headquarters are in Nedre Vats, Norway, and it has offices, warehouses and / or manufacturing sites in Norway, the USA, the UK, Poland, Germany, France, Korea, Japan, Spain, Italy and Austria.

About SoftBank

The SoftBank Group invests in breakthrough technology to improve the quality of life for people around the world. The SoftBank Group is comprised of SoftBank Group Corp. (TOKYO: 9984), an investment holding company that includes stakes in telecommunications, internet services, AI, smart robotics, IoT and clean energy technology providers; the SoftBank Vision Funds, which are investing more than US$100 billion to help extraordinary entrepreneurs transform industries and shape new ones; the US$5 billion SoftBank Latin America Fund, the largest venture fund in that region, and the SB Opportunity Fund, a US$100 million fund dedicated to investing in enterprises founded by entrepreneurs of color in the U.S.

About Thomas H. Lee Partners

Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. (“THL”) is a premier private equity firm investing in middle market growth companies exclusively in three sectors: Financial Services, Healthcare and Technology & Business Solutions. THL couples deep sector expertise with dedicated internal operating resources to transform and build great companies of lasting value in partnership with management. The Firm’s domain expertise and resources help to build great companies with an aim to accelerate growth, improve operations and drive long-term sustainable value. Since 1974, THL has raised more than $25 billion of equity capital, invested in over 150 companies and completed more than 400 add-on acquisitions representing an aggregate enterprise value at acquisition of over $200 billion. THL invests in automation companies through its flagship private equity fund and a dedicated automation fund.

About EQT

EQT is a purpose-driven global investment organization with more than EUR 84 billion in raised capital and over EUR 52 billion in assets under management across 17 active funds. EQT funds have portfolio companies in Europe, Asia-Pacific and North America with total sales of more than EUR 27 billion and approximately 159,000 employees. EQT works with portfolio companies to achieve sustainable growth, operational excellence and market leadership.

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