Robotic-Hand Maker Squse Said to Consider IPO in Japan Next Year

Squse Inc., a Japanese maker of robotic hands that can pick up food, plans an initial public offering in Tokyo as early as next year to fund overseas expansion, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Kyoto-based Squse, partly owned by state-backed Innovation Network Corp. of Japan, is considering seeking a valuation of at least 50 billion yen ($455 million), the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

INCJ, set up in 2009 to help make Japan’s technology industry more competitive, agreed in 2014 to spend as much as 500 million yen to buy a minority stake in Squse, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The IPO and expansion plans coincide with a rapid increase in demand globally for industrial robotics technology. Chinese appliance maker Midea Group Co. said last week it was seeking to increase its stake in German industrial robot maker Kuka AG. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for a “robot revolution” in the country last year with plans to more than quadruple annual sales in the industry to 2.4 trillion yen by 2020.

Squse hasn’t made a final decision about the proposed IPO, the people said.
Spokesmen for Squse and INCJ declined to comment.

Squse, founded in 1997, is aiming to sell its robotic hands, which make precise human-like movements, beyond the Japanese food makers and convenience-store operators it currently counts as customers, according to its website. The company wants to offer automated production lines with the hands preinstalled to companies in industries such as health-care, automobiles, agriculture and cosmetics, the website shows. 

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