Samsung Electronics has purchased more shares in Rainbow Robotics, a local humanoid robotics company, in an apparent move to ramp up its presence in the burgeoning robotics market.
In a regulatory filing on Wednesday, Rainbow Robotics reported its Chief Executive Officer Oh Jun-ho and other special interest groups sold their combined 4.8 percent stake in the company to Samsung for 27.8 billion won ($21.2 million).
Adding to its 10.22 percent stake purchased in January, Samsung now owns a total 14.99 percent stake in Rainbow Robotics as the second-largest shareholder of the company.
On Thursday, Rainbow Robotics shares closed at 112,300 won, an almost 30 percent jump from the previous day.
Rainbow Robotics is one of a handful of robot companies here that make bipedal humanlike robots.
The latest purchase gives Samsung rights to appoint one member of the board of directors. The tech giant also signed a contract to secure call option rights, under which it would be able to buy 855,439 shares of Rainbow Robotics in the next six years. If Samsung exercises the rights, it would be able to gain management control over the robot maker, with its shares expected to rise to 59.94 percent.
Rainbow Robotics was founded in 2011 by a research team at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology Humanoid Robot Research Center. The company made its stock debut on the nation’s tech-heavy Kosdaq in February 2021.
On Wednesday, Samsung’s co-Chief Executive Officer Han Jong-hee reiterated the company’s vision for robotics at the company’s annual shareholders meeting in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province.
“We will take preemptive measures to prepare for the era of robots that would fully unfold in the future,” Han said.
“We will bolster core technologies necessary for various types of robots and develop more products that can offer convenience to the customers.”
When Samsung first purchased shares of Rainbow Robotics, Han had said there was “nothing more,” or no other intention in buying the stakes, other than investment in the partner company.
“We took over stakes of Rainbow Robotics. There’s nothing more than that,” Han had said in January, on the sidelines of the world’s largest consumer electronics trade show in Las Vegas in January.
“It is true that robotics is one of our future growth drivers. EX1, a human assistant robot, will make its debut this year. We will share more details when we are ready,” he added.
Stock analysts say the latest deal shows that Samsung may consider acquiring the local robot maker in the future.
“(The additional stock purchase) shows that Samsung may be considering to acquire (Rainbow Robotics), depending on the output of their technological collaboration,” Yang Seung-yoon, a senior analyst at Eugene Investment and Securities said.
“Details to why Samsung Electronics is investing in Rainbow Robotics are not revealed. But the reason may be because Samsung is pushing for the company’s automation with the robots of Rainbow Robotics, and the two are collaborating their technologies to produce robots together.”
Since Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong vowed in October 2021 to invest some 230 trillion won into futuristic technologies, including robotics, the company’s robotics task force was elevated to an official team under the company’s device experience business division in the same year.
Samsung has not yet launched any advanced robot products, but it does have housekeeping and service robot prototypes, as well as wearable robots to help people with mobility disabilities.