Private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. announced on Tuesday, June 25, 2019, that it had a definitive agreement to acquire AutoStore, a Norwegian-based provider of robotics and software order fulfillment solutions to warehouses and distribution centers around the world.
This marks at least third investment by THL in the supply chain and materials handling space in recent years. In 2017, THL acquired MHS, a Louisville-based provider of parcel handling systems. More recently, in March 2019, the firm announced an investment in Fortna, a supply chain consulting and design firm.
Members of AutoStore’s senior management and equity teams, among others, will continue to hold minority positions in the company. The equity team will also remain on the board alongside THL going forward. Terms of the transaction, which is expected to close during the third quarter of 2019, were not disclosed.
Founded in 1996 and located in Nedre Vats, Norway, AutoStore designs and engineers patented high- speed robots, highly modular and flexible cube storage grid systems and the proprietary controls software that enable its customers to achieve nearly four times the inventory storage relative to manual alternatives, with enhanced inventory picking speed and accuracy.
With over 11,000 robots in operation across 28 countries, AutoStore is the most deployed provider of gridbased, high density goods-to-person systems, participating in the global automated storage and retrieval systems (“ASRS”) market. Global megatrends, including the increasing focus on automation and robotization, urbanization and need for space efficient solutions, as well as eCommerce demands requiring increased speed and accuracy, are all expected to continue to fuel AutoStore’s growth globally.
The recapitalization will ensure AutoStore has the resources needed to build upon its leading robotic technology and software platform, accelerate new product innovation for its customers, and execute on broader global growth objectives.
“We are thrilled about the opportunity to partner with the AutoStore team,” said Jim Carlisle, managing director at THL. “Through its grid-based technology and proprietary software platform, AutoStore has demonstrated a superb reputation in the marketplace underpinned by its visionary engineering and R&D talent, impressive global distribution network, and exceptional product quality. We are excited to invest behind Karl Johan and his team and look forward to supporting AutoStore’s rapid growth.”
“Today’s announcement marks a great step forward into the next phase of our Company’s growth,” said AutoStore CEO and president, Karl Johan Lier. “We are excited to partner with THL, who have deep industry expertise and financial and operational resources to help accelerate AutoStore’s overall growth strategy, including our continued geographic expansion.”
Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC acted as financial advisor, Kirkland & Ellis LLP acted as legal advisor, PwC acted as accounting and tax advisor and Marsh acted as insurance & benefits advisor to THL.