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Arm sold to Nvidia

In a move that could re-shape the semiconductor industry Arm is set to be be sold, by current owners Softbank, to Nvidia for $40bn.

The deal is still subject to regulatory approval in the UK and Nvidia is expected to face tough conditions on protecting jobs and the status of Arm’s headquarters in Cambridge.

In a press briefing with the media, Nvidia's CEO Jensen Huang talked up the prospects of investment in the UK, the hiring of more staff and the creation of an AI Centre of Excellence in Cambridge.

Huang said the deal would create, “the premier computing company for the age of artificial intelligence," and promised to keep Arm's headquarters in Cambridge.

Arm co-founder Hermann Hauser, however, has described the takeover as an “absolute disaster” and said it would destroy the company’s business model and despite promises made on jobs they were, “meaningless unless they are legally enforceable."

The big risk with this deal is the threat it poses to Arm's integrity and independence, which has been at the heart of the company's success and is core to its business model. If that is undermined then the likes of RISC-V, an open source architecture, could ultimately be the big winner from this deal.

Simon Segar, Arm's CEO, has said that Arm's customers have been kept fully informed of the deal and appears to suggest that there has been little in the way of opposition to the deal. In fact in the press he had with Huang he made the point that Arm would be retaining its neutral business model and a degree of independence.

While Huang told analysts that Nvidia had only “just started talking” to the UK government about the deal, and promised significant levels of investment opposition is growing to the deal and calls are growing from the Labour party, the science and technology workers’ union Prospect, as well as co-founder Hermann Hauser for the UK government to deploy its powers to block foreign takeovers, or attach conditions to them.

Sources close to the government suggest that it is 'minded' to refer the deal to the CMA.


Author
Neil Tyler

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