United Arab Emirates state-owned military weaponry and technologies company EDGE Group PJSC, has acquired a majority stake in Estonian robotic vehicle manufacturer Milrem Robotics.
Milrem Robotics CEO and founder Kuldar Väärsi told ERR, that the new investor now owns 50 percent of the company. The remaining shares are owned by a combination of Väärsi, through his company Sinrob, German defense firm Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, as well as a number of Estonian private investors and Milrem Robotics' employees.
According to Väärsi, Milrem Robotics' market value is in the hundreds of millions of euros.
Following the transaction, Milrem Robotics will retain its Tallinn headquarters and continue operating as before, with subsidiaries in Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United States.
The company's management team will also remain unchanged, with MEP Riho Terras (Isamaa) staying on as chair of the supervisory board.
Väärsi said, the aim had been to find ways to fund the company's expansion and the search for a suitable investor had taken a year.
"This is the outcome of a long period of negotiations. It is quite natural and organic for things to happen this way for a defense company. We want to have a leading robotics development center in Estonia and Milrem Robotics is going to be developing that (here). We want to be a global leader in the development and production of land robotics," he said.
Over 300 people to be hired in three years
According to Väärsi, there will be no major change of direction for the company, however they will be looking to hire new staff as their operations expand.
"In the next twelve months, we will recruit at least 100 people. Most of them will be from Estonia, all of the positions will be in Europe. In the next three years, we see ourselves growing from having 200 to 500 people," he said.
With the new investment coming in, Milrem's product portfolio will also be greatly expanded, Väärsi said.
"Where today we have, broadly speaking, two mobility platforms - a small and a large unmanned ground vehicle – this number will grow to six or seven," he explained.
"Plus, we will also bring in elements of battlefield command and management systems, providing a more holistic view of the battlefield from a robotics perspective," he added.
According to Väärsi, in three to four years' time, there will be a major revolution in robotics, and Milrem wants to be prepared for it.
"We need to prepare the company for that, and so it means we need to grow. To grow, we need a steady flow of investment," he said.
Terras: We did background check on investor
Chair of Milrem Robotics' Supervisory Board Riho Terras told ERR, that the new investment gives the company the opportunity to become a global center of excellence in the field of military robotics.
"We could see that at some point, the ceiling had been reached, where we could no longer run things as (if we were) a small company. This is a very important (investment)," Terras said.
According to Terras, before the decision was taken, background checks were conducted, with no reasons found not to accept the EDGE Group's investment.
"They have investments in other European countries. We have just opened an embassy in the United Arab Emirates to bring in investment to Estonian companies," he said.
Founded in 2013, Milrem Robotics creates robotic solutions for use in challenging environments. The company develops unmanned ground vehicles and combat robots, and is also developing military concepts for unmanned systems. Milrem Robotics' primary products are the THeMIS and Multiscope unmanned ground vehicles (UGV). The company is also currently developing the Type-X UGV.
Editor: Michael Cole