By Lee Seung-yoon and Kim Hyo-jin
LG Electronics Inc., eager in reinforcing computing electronics and robotics through its own technology and outsourcing, will buy a 20 percent stake in Kosdaq-listed industrial robotics maker Robostar Co.
The Korean tech giant said Tuesday it will buy 1.95 million common shares in Robostar for 53.6 billion won ($49.5 million) in rights placement in July. It will purchase additional holdings from managerial individuals to command a 33.4 percent stake by the end of 2019, the company added.
Robostar in a disclosure revealed it signed a deal with LG Electronics to sell the holdings of its major shareholders, including Kim Jung-ho, chief executive of Robostar.
Robostar, founded in 1999, is one of the most established Korean producers of industrial robots. It manufactures and sells scara robots and cylindrical coordinate robots used in the production of displays, semiconductors and automobiles.
LG Electronics said it will incorporate Robostar’s advanced robotics technology in its plans for building a smart automotive factory.
The electronics behemoth has been ramping up its robotics business since last year with deployment of guide and service robots at Incheon International Airport and Starfield Hanam shopping complex. Earlier this year, it showcased a fleet of new robots including hotel service robots and robotic shopping carts at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the world’s largest electronics trade show.
In March, it invested 1 billion won for a 10 percent stake in Acryl, a Korean startup specializing in artificial intelligence technologies, especially emotion recognition, a key technique when building robots that can identify human emotions.
“We’re seeking to bolster our robotics business through not just self-developed technologies but also active partnerships with outside experts,” said a company official. “We plan to pursue more investments and collaborations to build our robot capacity for industrial, commercial and residential uses.”
Shares of Robostar dropped 10.62 percent to close Wednesday at 32,400 won while LG Electronics shares remained unchanged at 96,100 won.