Foxconn, Alibaba to invest in SoftBank’s robotics business
Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group ( ) and China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (
) agreed on Thursday that they will each invest 14.5 billion Japanese yen (US$117.4 million) in SoftBank Robotics Holdings Corp., the SoftBank Group’s (
) intermediate holding company responsible for its robotics business.
Under the agreement, upon the completion of the investment by Alibaba and Foxconn, SoftBank’s share ownership ratio in SoftBank Robotics will become 60 percent, and Alibaba and Foxconn will each hold ownership stakes of 20 percent, the companies said in a joint statement.
SoftBank, Alibaba and Foxconn will build a structure to bring Pepper — a robot that can interact with human emotion — and other robotics businesses to global markets, and cooperate with the aim of spreading and developing the robotics industry on a worldwide scale, the statement said.
“Foxconn is pleased to be partnering with SoftBank and Alibaba as part of our effort to drive the advancement of robotics engineering,” said Terry Gou ( ) , founder and CEO of Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics maker, which manufactures iPhones and iPads for Apple Inc.
“This is a strategic area of focus for our company as we continue to advance our capabilities in intelligent manufacturing and realize our Industry 4.0 vision,” Gou said.
Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, said that as his company enters the data technology era, robotics will become a critical field that catalyzes technological breakthroughs in numerous sectors such as healthcare, public services, research and at home.
The Pepper robot, developed by a SoftBank subsidiary in France and made by Foxconn, will go on sale in Japan on June 20 at 198,000 Japanese yen (US$1,624), with 1,000 units available for purchase this month, according to SoftBank.
From left to right, founder and CEO of Foxconn Terry Gou ( ), SoftBank Group Chairman Masayoshi Son, and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. founder Jack Ma pose for a photo at a kick-off ceremony yesterday. The three pledged to cooperate and wade into the robotics industry.