Teradyne, a North Reading company that makes electronic testing equipment, will pay at least $285 million to acquire Universal Robots, a Denmark-based maker of production-line robots. The acquisition marks Teradyne’s first foray into the fast-growing robotics field.
Teradyne could pay an additional $65 million depending on Universal Robots’ performance through 2018. Universal Robots’ biggest shareholder was the Danish Growth Fund, a government investment arm that provides investments and loans to young companies.
Universal specializes in “collaborative robots,” which can work alongside humans in factories, performing tasks like painting, packaging, and assembling parts. The company’s products include programmable robotic arms that lift small loads of 6 to 22 pounds. Teradyne said they are currently used in the agriculture, automotive, and pharmaceutical industries, among others.
Collaborative robotics is a $100 million segment of the industrial robotics market and is growing at 50 percent per year, Teradyne said. Revenue for Universal Robots grew 70 percent from 2013 to 2014, hitting $38 million, and its profit more than doubled, according to Teradyne. Universal Robots chief executive Enrico Krog Iversen said his company has been profitable “since late 2010.”
In a news release, Universal Robots chairman Clas Nylandsted indicated there were other potential acquirers. “Among all the suitors, we chose to seek a common future with the very right one,” he said.