If you’ve been following the story at all, you’ll know that Nvidia has been trying to buy ARM from SoftBank in a bid worth over $40 billion. ARM is both the name of the architecture of the smartphone chips (and recently also of some computer chips) but also that of a holding company. The ARM holding company sells the design of the cores and other elements from which the various players such as Qualcomm, Samsung (Exynos) and Apple (Apple Silicon) can draw to design their own customised designs.
In other words, ARM is at the heart of what makes the smartphone industry. Who controls ARM gets a huge advantage in the market. And that is why, among other things, the takeover by Nvidia ended up being challenged by the authorities. Following this rejection, the current owner of ARM, the Japanese group SoftBank, said it intended to no longer offer ARM for sale. Instead, the firm is betting on an IPO to be able to derive a return on investment. And it is in such a context that we learn that Qualcomm would be interested in a takeover – with the help of Samsung.
Qualcomm says it is very interested in taking control of ARM via a new consortium
Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon explains on the sidelines of an interview with the Financial Times why he is interested in ARM and under what conditions Qualcomm could buy (or at least take control) of the holding company. He explains : “we would like to invest […] ARM is a very important asset that is destined to become essential for the development of our industry”. Cristiano Amon realizes nevertheless, with what has just happened for the takeover by Nvidia, that Qualcomm will never be able to buy ARM alone, even by putting a substantial sum on the table.
The regulator has indeed every chance of drawing the same conclusions as at the time of Nvidia and therefore of refusing the operation. So the CEO launches an idea: to create a consortium in which Qualcomm and Samsung would be the majority investors, joined by a multitude of companies: “a lot of companies would have to participate in such a way that it leads to de facto independence from ARM”. We note in passing that Intel is seduced by a similar approach.
Pat Gelsinger, its CEO, even met with Samsung executives a few days ago, presumably to discuss the takeover. For the time being everything remains to be concretized but we note that the big maneuvers are launched behind the scenes. What do you think of a takeover of ARM by a consortium rather than by one or two companies? Share your opinion in the comments.