Japan-based SoftBank has reached an agreement with ARM Holdings to acquire the UK-based chip designer for $32 billion in an all cash deal, reports The Wall Street Journal. ARM is listed on the London Stock Exchange, and the official announcement is expected to be made today before the exchange opens.
ARM currently designs various processors under the ARM architecture that are used in embedded systems, smart TVs, smartwatches, tablets, laptops, mobiles, servers and even some supercomputers. The company also owns the Mali line of GPUs that are used in most Android tablets as well as on some smartphones. Rather than make its own chips, the company licenses its architecture for other manufacturers to create processors, including manufacturers like Apple, Nvidia and Qualcomm.
Note that SoftBank had merged with telecom operator Sprint for $21.6 billion in 2013, post which Sprint was split as a second company earlier this year. The Japanese investor had also acquired Vodafone’s Japan unit in a $15 billion deal back in 2006. With ARM’s track record of consistently supplying technology to power connected devices, and Intel failing at mobile, this investment should enable SoftBank to strengthen its position in the connected devices category, including smartphones, vehicles and appliances, that can potentially use ARM-based technologies.
Nikesh Arora exit: Note that this acquisition comes on the heels of president and chief operating officer of SoftBank Nikesh Arora exiting the company. Arora remains as an adviser to the firm, which a Softbank spokesperson had confirmed independently to MediaNama. CEO of SoftBank Masayoshi Son is currently in charge of the company’s investment strategy.
Alibaba sale: SoftBank recently announced that it would sell at least $7.9 billion of its stake in the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba to reduce its debt. This transaction would reduce SoftBank’s ratio of net debt to EBITDA to 3.3 times, from 3.8 at the end of March. As a part of the deal, Alibaba would buyback ordinary shares worth $2 billion, with the rest offered to a wealth fund and various institutional buyers.
SoftBank’s India investments: In May this year, SoftBank provided updates on several of its marquee investments in India including Snapdeal, Ola, OYO Rooms and Hike Messenger, although Housing was missing from the list. The updates mentioned that Snapdeal’s gross merchandise value had grown by 90% year-on-year, Ola’s cabs estimated arrival time was improved by 55%, while OYO Rooms registered a 15x year-on-year growth with 2.3 million booked room nights.