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Softbank invests €460M in Berlin’s Auto1 car dealer platform

Written by  Jan 15, 2018

Softbank’s Vision Fund has made another investment: The Japanese conglomerate has agreed to invest €460M in Berlin-based online car dealer Auto1.

Auto1 confirmed the investment in a press release put out today, saying the deal values the company at €2.9BN. Around half of the investment is being made through the issue of new shares, it added.

The FT reports that Softbank is taking a 20 per cent stake in Auto1 via this investment — though a spokesman for the fund declined to confirm the size of the stake.

SoftBank’s Akshay Naheta is joining the Auto1 Group board following the investment.

Commenting in a statement, he said: “Auto1 Group has built a fast growing, data-enabled platform introducing efficiency and transparency to the fragmented used car market, which is worth more than $300BN annually. The SoftBank Vision Fund’s capital and our operational expertise with marketplace businesses will support continued global growth.”

Also commenting in a statement, Auto1’s co-CEO Hakan Koç added: “We believe that the Fund’s deep investment and technology expertise will help us to accelerate our growth as we continue to focus on making the used vehicle market more efficient and transparent.”

The gift of a getaway

Koç suggested the new financing will go towards product development, telling the FT: “This gives us a big lever when it comes to rolling out new products and services.”

Since launching in 2012, Auto1 has expanded into more than 30 countries, and says it is now trading with more than 35,000 professional partners and selling more than 40,000 cars per month. The startup’s analytics and logistics platform aims to match supply and demand for used cars.

Prior to Softbank stepping in, the company had raised around $520M, according to Crunchbase, with its most recent round being €360M in Series E debt and equity financing, announced in May last year, when it said the funding would go towards expanding its business activity in Europe.

The investment is not Softbank’s first with a car theme; at the end of last year the Vision Fund secured a sizable stake in ride-hailing giant Uber by buying up shares from existing investors.

Setting out his vision for the fund last year, Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son said his conviction that humans are going to invent superintelligent AI within the next 30 years underpins his haste to raise the fund and cut so many sizable checks — even if a lot of the fund’s early bets are rather more prosaic than the 100-legged robotic moonshots he was sketching in his 2017 pitch for Vision Fund partners.

Also see:London start-up investment in Europe is booming

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