Consortium of chipmakers prepared to buy Arm outright
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Move would be a semiconductor industry game-changer: GlobalData
Following the news that Qualcomm would be prepared to invest in Arm alongside rival semiconductor companies or could join forces with other chipmakers to buy Arm outright.
Mike Orme, consultant analyst in the Thematic Research Team at GlobalData, offers this view: “This could be the most significant event in the semiconductor industry since Intel, TSMC, and Samsung took strategic stakes in ASML in 2012 to enable it to bring an Extreme Ultraviolet chip-making machine to market. As a result, ASML became the only company able to offer the means to make new generations of the most advanced chips. We are in similar territory here,” Orme states.
ARM is a British semiconductor and software design company based in Cambridge, England.
“If Arm technology can become the blueprint for very low-power-draw computing, it will radically reduce the energy demand and cost of computing infrastructure, which currently consumes over 10% of the world’s electricity. On current growth trends, that could breach 20% by 2030. That’s why a consortium investing in Arm would be such a gamechanger,” adds Orme. “Given just how influential Arm could become if it gets the backing to sustain its R&D effort, it could command a much higher valuation than its revenue and profitability warrants.”
The UK government could buy a golden share in Arm
David Bicknell, principal analyst in the Thematic Research Team at GlobalData, offers his view: “Qualcomm is thinking big about Arm’s future, and others must now do the same. If Qualcomm and other chipmakers invest in Arm or even join forces to buy it outright, that changes the thinking way beyond simply where SoftBank wants its IPO.
“An outright bid, were it to happen, would put Arm in the hands of chipmakers, which is where it should be. Although it’s been mooted that the UK government could buy a golden share in Arm, SoftBank should resist the idea. Arm is too important to be a tech test case for the UK government,” says Bicknell.
Dr Lil Read, senior analyst in the Thematic Research Team at GlobalData, offers her view: “As Nvidia’s planned acquisition of Arm became increasingly unlikely due to regulatory concerns, SoftBank needed a plan for Arm. Plan B for Arm may now well be a US-based flotation backed by chip-friendly giants such as Apple, Qualcomm, and TSMC – Arm’s largest customers. In light of Qualcomm’s comments, this now looks a more distinct possibility than, say, a private equity deal.”