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Japan-Update

SoftBank buys 2 robotics ventures from Alphabet

IT giant's shares surge on deal announcement, Alibaba revenue forecast

The Pepper humanoid robot was created by SoftBank.

TOKYO -- SoftBank Group announced on Friday that it will acquire Boston Dynamics, a U.S. venture that develops robots that run like animals, from Alphabet, Google's parent company.

The deal also sees SoftBank buy Japanese robotics firm Schaft, a spin-off from the University of Tokyo that develops humanoid bipedal robots, from Alphabet.

The value and details of the agreement were not disclosed.

The Japanese telecommunications conglomerate has positioned robotics as one of its key business areas. The company has already developed its own humanoid robot Pepper, and is looking to further expand in the field with the two acquisitions.

"Smart robotics are going to be a key driver of the next stage of the information revolution," SoftBank Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son said in a press release.

Boston Dynamics was established in 1992 and purchased by Google in 2013.

Company Chief Executive Marc Raibert said Boston Dynamics will work with SoftBank "to push the boundaries of what advanced robots can do and create useful applications in a smarter and more connected world."

Toyota Motor was also involved in talks with Google last year over a potential purchase of the two companies.

SoftBank shares surged 5% on the Tokyo Stock Exchange at the beginning of Friday trading.

A sales forecast released by Alibaba Group Holding, in which SoftBank has a 32% stake, also pushed up the company's shares.

On Thursday, Alibaba's Chief Financial Officer Maggie Wu said revenue growth of 45-49% is expected in the current fiscal year.

SoftBank's stock also pushed the Nikkei stock average on Friday. The index rose nealy 1% to 20,096 yen in morning trading.

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