Hut Group in £1.6bn tie-up with Japanese conglomerate Softbank

Hut Group in £1.6bn tie-up with Softbank: Japanese firm to become top shareholder and use e-commerce tech

The Hut Group (THG) last night agreed a £1.6billion tie-up with a Japanese conglomerate.

Under the deal, Softbank will become a top shareholder in the Manchester-based internet shopping business and use its e-commerce technology.

It values THG’s technology division, Ingenuity, at £4.5billion – just months after the entire company was floated on the stock market with the same valuation.

Tie up: The Hut Group's chief exec Matt Moulding (pictured) believes Softbank's investment would help the group 'super accelerate' its expansion plans

Tie up: The Hut Group’s chief exec Matt Moulding (pictured) believes Softbank’s investment would help the group ‘super accelerate’ its expansion plans

Last night THG boss Matt Moulding, who controls about 24 per cent of the firm, said Softbank’s investment would help the group ‘super accelerate’ its expansion plans.

At the same time, he announced the £180million takeover of Bentley Laboratories, a US beauty firm.

The deal with Softbank will see the Japanese firm – one of the world’s largest technology multinationals – initially pay £516million for a stake of about 9.5 per cent in THG, making it a top six shareholder at a stroke.

This is part of a £710million share placing that other big investors are also taking part in.

However, Softbank has secured further rights to invest another £1.1billion in technology division Ingenuity, which is being separated from THG, and will take a 19.9 per cent stake in that business too. 

THG will remain in overall control.

Ingenuity supplies technology, such as websites, logistics and online check-out systems, allowing brands to sell their products easily online.

Clients include Homebase, Gillette, Nintendo and Nestle, but the Softbank deal could open up more opportunities in Asia.

The separation of Ingenuity is expected to complete in 15 months, THG said, but Moulding, 49, said there were no plans to sell Ingenuity or other divisions completely and the separation was designed to create ‘an entity through which Softbank can invest’.