General Motors (GM) sped up its robotaxi plan Thursday, announcing that Japan’s Softbank Vision Fund will invest $2.25 billion in GM Cruise in a deal valuing the self-driving unit at $11.5 billion.


GM bought Cruise, a tech startup, just over two years ago for a reported $1 billion. The new GM Cruise valuation pegs it at about a fifth of GM’s total market value — and more than double some analyst estimates.

It also boosts the automaker’s goal to roll out a commercial robotaxi service by 2019, as GM fends off Alphabet (GOOGL)-owned Waymo, Tesla (TSLA) and Ford Motor (F) to lead autonomous driving.

GM will also invest $1.1 billion in Cruise, its autonomous vehicle (AV) arm, upon closing of the transaction. The date for the close was not specified.

Joseph Spak, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, expects Softbank’s investment to give GM both capital for commercializing autonomous vehicles and more flexibility on capital allocation, while unlocking share price value.

“GM has a meaningful seat at the table for shared autonomous vehicles (“robotaxis”) and we believe this deal affirms that view,” he wrote in a note. GM and Ford could speed up commercializing AV efforts by bringing in new investors or floating their mobility units including Cruise, he added.

Spak noted he had pegged Cruise’s value at $4 billion.

Shares of GM gapped up 12.9% to 42.70 in stock market action, reclaiming the 200-day moving average for the first time since February.

GM stock is in a first-stage consolidation with a potential 45.62 buy point. But most of the base-building has happened below the 10-week moving average, which merits caution.

Alphabet added 2.1% in Thursday trade, Ford was flat and Tesla slipped 2.4%.

SoftBank will invest $900 million at the deal’s close and $1.35 billion when Cruise AVs are ready for commercial use. The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval, will give the SoftBank fund a 19.6% equity stake in GM Cruise. GM’s stake in Cruise is now worth $9.2 billion, Spak noted.

“The GM Cruise approach of a fully integrated hardware and software stack gives it a unique competitive advantage,” Michael Ronen, managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, said in a statement. GM described Softbank as a “tech leader who shares our belief that AV technology will change the world.”

GM Self-Driving Cars: ‘Production-Ready’

In March, GM said it was ready to start making “production-ready” Cruise AVs in Michigan after building test self-driving cars for more than a year.

Softbank reportedly has a 15% stake in ride-sharing giant Uber, which was rocked by a self-driving vehicle accident earlier this year.

Both GM and Ford have tie-ups with Uber’s rival Lyft. But GM has said it could partner with others or go it alone on robotaxis.


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