(Bloomberg) -- SoftBank Group Corp.’s mobile unit is buying an Irish company that specializes in broadband for cars, placing a bet on smart and driverless vehicle technology in its biggest overseas acquisition since listing.
SoftBank Corp. will pay €473 million ($513 million) for 51% of Dublin-based Cubic Telecom Ltd., the companies said in a statement. The transaction values privately-held Cubic at more than 900 million euros and is expected to close during the first half of next year, subject to regulatory approvals.
Web connectivity is one of the key technologies required in self-driving cars, an area of focus for Masayoshi Son. This year, SoftBank Group Corp. inked a deal to invest $280 million into Mapbox Inc., a creator of AI-powered maps and navigation software. SoftBank is also expected to invest an estimated $1 billion into Stack AV, an autonomous trucking startup.
Cubic provides connections to about 17 million vehicles in over 190 countries. That translates to roughly 10% of the global market for connected cars excluding China, according to the Irish firm. It is adding 450,000 new vehicles each month, a pace that’s expected to pick up to 700,000 in 2025. It didn’t disclose financial details including profitability.
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The two companies plan to use the tie-up to accelerate their global expansion by leveraging SoftBank’s wide satellite coverage and Cubic’s expertise in autos. The market of connected cars is forecast to generate billions of dollars of revenue by 2030, with about 95% of new vehicles coming with web-connectivity, the two firms said, citing research by McKinsey.
Powering cars with internet entails complex technical integrations and layers of regulatory approvals and compliance requirements, according to Cubic. SoftBank’s acquisition should help Cubic double or even triple its current market share, the Irish company said.
“The focus on software rather than hardware means manufacturers can increase the value of a vehicle or device by adding new functionality, over-the-air, which will improve safety, comfort and performance,” said Barry Napier, who will retain his post as Cubic’s CEO. “The opportunities ahead of us are endless.”
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