SoftBank spends $2.8 billion to buy 40% stake in warehouse robotics firm AutoStore

SoftBank claims AutoStore is making possible advances in logistics for companies around the world.

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AutoStore's R5 model in its Red Line of warehouse robots.

Japanese investment firm The SoftBank Group this afternoon announced it will spend $2.8 billion to buy a 40% stake in robotics company AutoStore System, which specializes in robotics for warehouses.

The company develops a line of robots, including the "R5," a member of its Red Line series, for moving bins full of goods around a warehouse. 

Its software offerings, such as AutoStore's "The Router," optimize the movement of robotics systems around a warehouse.

SoftBank claims AutoStore can "redefine space," for "a range of markets as diverse as e-commerce, grocery, industrial, and healthcare in any warehouse, retail location or other facility."

AutoStore System is a subsidiary of Autostore AS, a Norwegian firm founded in 1996. 

SoftBank is buying the stake from existing stakeholders, private equity funds Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. and EQT Private Equity. 

As SoftBank notes in its press release, "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 has 600 installations around the world, notes SoftBank, and 20,000 robots operating in 35 countries.

Said SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son, "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."

SoftBank noted that expansion of AutoStore's operations in Asia-Pacific is a priority.