AutoStore, the robot warehouse group backed by SoftBank plans an IPO in Oslo
SoftBank-backed warehouse robotics group AutoStore is forecasting a stock exchange listing next month in Oslo that could value the company at nearly $ 12 billion.
Japanese tech investor SoftBank bought a 40% stake in AutoStore, which is based in a small village in western Norway, for $ 2.8 billion earlier this year. His systems automate warehouse storage and retrieval processes and he manufactures for companies such as Puma and Ikea.
AutoStore achieved $ 182 million in revenue last year, but is aiming for $ 300 million in 2021 and over $ 500 million next year, as demand from grocery retailers and vendors line increases sharply. Its profit margin before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization is around 50 percent, a level it claims it can maintain over the medium term.
“I think we are in a perfect place. We are in a market that will grow for decades to come. We really believe that we are only at the beginning of the growth story, ”Managing Director Karl Johan Lier told the Financial Times.
AutoStore pioneered cube storage automation, which enables much higher storage volumes through vertical stacking that would be too risky for human operators. It has nearly 700 installations in 35 countries for clients such as Gucci and Texas Instruments.
Lier estimated that AutoStore has more than 90% of the current cube storage market, although other companies such as Daifuku in Japan also offer warehouse automation.
AutoStore, which has 149 employees – about three-quarters of whom work in software – has been helped by the huge increase in online shopping during the pandemic, especially grocery shopping, Lier said.
Founded and based in Nedre Vats, a village of just 400 inhabitants between Bergen and Stavanger on the west coast of Norway, AutoStore was born out of a local electronic components company in the 1990s before being acquired by the capital group. – Swedish investment EQT in 2017. EQT sold the to US private equity firm Thomas H Lee Partners, which is still the largest shareholder with a 50 percent stake.
Lier declined to comment on any assessment, saying it would happen when the prospectus was released around October 10. Listing is expected to take place around October 20. People familiar with the details said a potential valuation of around 10 billion euros ($ 11.7 billion) is underway. discussed.
The April sale to SoftBank valued the company at $ 7.7 billion, including debt. AutoStore is expected to use the proceeds of the initial public offering to reduce its debt to a “more normal level,” according to Lier. AutoStore will sell $ 315 million of new shares in the offering while existing shareholders will also reduce their stakes.
The group is also suing rival Ocado for alleged theft of intellectual property. Lier said AutoStore was “very comfortable with the outcome – we expect to win.” He added that Ocado bought him a cube storage system in 2012 and allegedly “used it to develop his own system.” Ocado said it was “not aware of any violation” of AutoStore’s rights.
Lier said AutoStore’s biggest competitor was not a rival, but companies deciding not to invest in optimizing their warehouses.
Carnegie, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley are the joint global IPO coordinators.