SoftBank Providing $200M To Keep Construction Company Katerra Afloat
SoftBank Group is pumping another $200M into prefab construction company Katerra, which bills itself as a disrupter in that industry by doing most of its work off-site. The infusion of capital will reportedly keep Katerra from filing for bankruptcy.
The additional money, which is coming from SoftBank's $100B Vision Fund 1, would give the Japanese investor majority ownership of Katerra, much as a similar series of investments gave it control of WeWork in late 2019, The Wall Street Journal reports. SoftBank has already put about $2B into the construction company.
As part of the deal, Greensill Capital, which is backed by SoftBank, would cancel a debt of about $435M that Katerra owes it. In return, Greensill would receive a 5% stake in the construction company.
This infusion of cash is the second one of that size in less than eight months. SoftBank Group's Vision Fund ponied up $200M in May for Menlo Park, California-based Katerra, and Paal Kibsgaard, former head of oil services developer Schlumberger, was tapped as Katerra's new chief executive with a mandate to right the company's finances.
Since its founding in 2015, Katerra has pursued tech-enabled off-site building, especially using mass timber, with mixed results. There have been reports of cost overruns and project pullouts, but the company's portfolio has grown.
Despite Katerra's growing pains, SoftBank said in a statement to the WSJ that Kibsgaard has “addressed several operational inefficiencies and improved the financial trajectory of Katerra.” Moreover, Kibsgaard told the WSJ he expects between $1.5B and $2B of revenue in 2021 and positive cash flow in 2022.
After a series of notable poor investments, SoftBank turned in a reasonably good 2020. Rising tech stocks helped its investments last year, and the company has also sold other investments, such as Boston Dynamics, at a profit.