NVIDIA to Buy Arm for $40 Billion

SoftBank Officials Revive Talks to Take Company Private FTMore

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said the US company still plans to keep Arm based at its headquarters in Cambridge, England, where it will also build an artificial intelligence research centre.

That $40 billion purchase price also includes $1.5 billion in equity compensation for existing Arm employees, which now number more than 6,000 according to the company.

And if the deal does pass muster with regulators, will chip makers that are now licensing Arm designs look elsewhere?

Hauser and Tudor Brown, another ARM cofounder, have been outspoken critics of the sale to Nvidia, which has been trailed in the press for some time.

"We want to grow Arm and make it become even greater", Mr. Huang told analysts on a call, adding Arm would hire more engineers, spend more on research and run a new artificial intelligence research centre in Cambridge.

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He predicted big growth opportunities for Nvidia and Arm in the server CPU market, which is now dominated by Intel and Advanced Micro Devices.

SoftBank bought Arm for about $32 billion in 2016, in an effort to cement the Japanese company's ambitions in advancing how various devices, including security cameras and household appliances, connect online and work together.

The companies say it will likely take about a year and a half for the acquisition to be completed, because, among other things, it will need to be approved by regulators in the UK, US, China, and the European Union. As founder and CEO Jensen Huang explains: "AI is the most powerful technological force of our time and has triggered a new wave of computing". That earlier deal sparked fears that one of Britain's most successful tech companies would be involved in a foreign takeover, so the British government got SoftBank to agree to keep Arm's headquarters in the United Kingdom and double its British staff over five years as concessions. Learning from data, AI supercomputers can write software no human can. Now that ARM will be a U.S. company, access to ARM hardware and IP is a chip the USA government could potentially wield at the negotiating table. That, combined with the fact that the majority of the price will be paid in Nvidia stock (up 5% at time of writing on the news, having already doubled this year), means this deal has to be about more than just SoftBank covering its speculative positions.

If the company's British character and open business model could not be protected, it would be better for Mr. Johnson to back a flotation on the London Stock Exchange, Mr. Hauser said.

Arm's importance far outweighs its revenue, which comes from licensing chip fundamentals and selling processor designs. Up until now, ARM has been either an independent company or owned by a company outside the semiconductor industry. The other group the canned quotes are directed at is Arm customers, who will understandably be alarmed by the prospect of it being owned by a competitor. The business had "very little to do" with Nvidia's strategy, Huang said.

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