SoftBank's cut-price purchase of the warehouse automation specialist adds to a string of losses, but companies like Berkshire Grey could point to a way forward.

Berkshire Grey robotic arm with blue background

SoftBank Group agreed this week to acquire portfolio company Berkshire Grey at a hefty discount, illustrating the issues the internet and telecommunications group has had with its investments.

The transaction will involve SoftBank, which reportedly owns a 28% stake, buying the shares it does not already hold in the publicly listed supply chain robotics producer for $375m, or $1.40 per share. Those shares were around the $10 mark when it listed on Nasdaq in a reverse merger in mid-2021.

SoftBank has been the largest corporate venture investor by some distance in recent years, but Berkshire Grey is just another example in a string of big losses spurred by weak public markets, losses that totalled $5.8bn in the last quarter of 2022 alone.

On paper, Berkshire Grey seemed like a viable investment. It emerged from…

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Robert Lavine

Robert Lavine is special features editor for Global Venturing.