(Bloomberg) -- SoftBank Group Corp. is setting up an artificial intelligence-oriented warehousing joint venture with Symbotic Inc. and buying more shares in the supply-chain-services company.
SoftBank and Symbotic are investing a combined $100 million to establish the joint venture, which will be called GreenBox Systems LLC, and will buy $7.5 billion of Symbotic’s AI-powered systems for its warehouses, according to a statement Monday, confirming a Bloomberg News report. That adds to Symbotic’s $12 billion of contracts for system deployments.
“We are pleased to partner with SoftBank in this venture that accelerates our shared vision to transform the supply chain,” Rick Cohen, Symbotic’s chief executive officer, said. “GreenBox enables Symbotic to bring the benefits of our technology to a broader customer universe, expanding our market opportunity.”
The deal doubles down on SoftBank’s robotics and automation strategy, an increasingly important focus for the Japanese tech investment business. The AI sector is drawing enormous sums of money from tech giants, including Microsoft Corp., as companies bet on growth in the technology, which has the potential to replace human workers in everything from the arts to manufacturing and supply chains. The deal comes a month after SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son told investors in June that he would go back on the offensive in tech investing soon, seeking to establish his credentials in the AI field.
“GreenBox taps into the powerful potential of AI and other enabling technologies in supply chains, while also making the benefits of automation accessible to more businesses through an ‘as-a-service’ offering,” Vikas J. Parekh, managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, said in a statement.
SoftBank will own about 65% of GreenBox and the rest will be owned by Symbotic, which went public in 2022 through a merger with a SoftBank-backed special purpose acquisition company.
SoftBank, which already owned about 5% of Symbotic, is upping its stake via the purchase of 17.8 million shares in the company from Symbotic Chief Executive Officer Rick Cohen. Symbotic will also issue warrants to SoftBank representing about 2% of its outstanding shares. Cohen will remain controlling shareholder of Symbotic.
Symbotic rose 5.5% to to $46.09 at 9:37 a.m. in New York trading Monday, giving the company a market value of about $26 billion. The shares have gained about 293% this year.
The Wilmington, Massachusetts-based company helps companies save money by using robots to help fulfill customer orders. Walmart Inc. is among its most important clients, with plans to implement Symbotic systems in all 42 of its regional distribution centers.
(Updates trading in penultimate paragraph; An earlier version of this report corrected the size of SoftBank’s stake in Symbotic.)
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