SEOUL: Hyundai Motor Group units and its chairman have agreed to buy an 80% stake in robot maker Boston Dynamics from SoftBank Group Corp for around 800 billion won to 900 billion won ($736 million-$828 million), a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday.
Chairman Euisun Chung will own a 20% stake in Boston Dynamics, while Hyundai Motor and its affiliates, Hyundai Mobis and Hyundai Glovis, will hold a combined 60% stake, two people said.
Both Hyundai Motor and SoftBank declined to comment.
Hyundai becomes the latest owner of Boston Dynamics, which was spun out from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992, bought by Google in 2013 and sold to SoftBank in 2017.The company’s products include Spot, a four-legged dog-like robot that can climb stairs, and have gained media attention even as it struggled to build a commercial business.Clients include Ford Motor Co, which leased two Spot robots in July as part of a pilot programme.
The deal is the latest pullback by SoftBank from operating businesses as CEO Masayoshi Son focuses on investing. Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung said last October that robotics will account for 20% of the company’s future business, with carmaking taking up 50%, followed by urban air mobility at 30%. “This is part of Hyundai’s plan to expand its business to robots and not be limited to car manufacturing, with competitors such as Honda and Toyota developing their own robots for years,” said Moon Kwan-yong, an analyst at Shinyoung Securities.
($1 = 1,087.2200 won)