Japanese conglomerate SoftBank has been looking for someone to acquire its semiconductor designer Arm and although it finally settled on NVIDIA, that deal may still fall through at least in one country. The UK government is reportedly preparing to intervene and block the acquisition if necessary on the grounds that NVIDIA buying up Arm could not only endanger its citizens’ jobs but also threaten the country’s sovereignty over one of its very few technology champions.
Cambridge-based Arm, formerly ARM Holdings, was an independent company until it was acquired by Japan’s SoftBank Group just last 2016. Arm, the owner and designer of the world’s most used processor technology for mobile and embedded computing, was able to retain its original business model and operations under SoftBank’s ownership. There are, however, concerns that things might not be the same with NVIDIA holding the reins.
The UK is particularly concerned about the effects the acquisition would have on the country’s economy and sovereignty. As a UK-based company, Arm is naturally one of the country’s prized possessions and it won’t simply allow it to be handed over without much scrutiny.
NVIDIA, of course, has promised to keep the status quo as far as Arm’s business model is concerned. It even committed to turning the UK into a global center for AI research and excellence which could help strengthen the country’s economy and prestige. Some UK officials, however, are not buying it at face value.
NVIDIA’s acquisition of Arm could face similar scrutiny from other regulators in the US and EU as it would give NVIDIA a competitive edge over its rivals. The potential for taking advantage of that to the detriment of rivaling Arm customers is too great to ignore. The deal is valued at $40 billion or 30 billion GBP.