Government ‘carefully examining’ acquisition of UK tech mainstay Arm

Chip company due to be sold to US firm Nvidia for $40bn

Credit: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/DPA/Press Association Images

The government has indicated it is keeping a close eye on the planned $40bn acquisition of UK chipmaker Arm by US firm Nvidia – including examining the possibility of a ministerial intervention.

Founded in Cambridge 30 years ago, the semiconductor and software firm is one of the most successful companies to have emerged from the so-called ‘Silicon Fen’ cluster of tech outfits originating in the city. Since 2016, the formerly publicly-listed business has owned by Japanese investment house SoftBank, which bought the company for £24.3bn.

It was announced last month that US chip manufacturer Nvidia had agreed a $40bn deal with the bank to acquire a 90% share in Arm.

The proposed deal has reportedly raised concerns with authorities in a number of countries – including China and the UK. It has been reported that the government may intervene in the deal over concerns over one of UK tech industry’s biggest success stories – and all its intellectual property – being subsumed by a Silicon Valley rival.

Baroness Barran, a minister at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “The government is clear that Arm is an important part of the UK’s technology sector and makes a significant contribution to the UK economy.”

In response to a written parliamentary question from cross-bench peer Lord Broers about whether government would ask the Competition and Markets Authority to probe the deal, Barran said it would be a matter for the regulator itself to decide.

But she added that digital secretary Oliver Dowden retained the right to intervene, if it was in the public interest to do so.

“The Competition and Markets Authority bears responsibility for assessing any competition impacts arising from the proposed deal and it will be following its normal regulatory processes in examining this deal,” Barran said. “Separately, the secretary of state also has the responsibility for determining whether or not to refer an acquisition on public interest grounds if relevant thresholds in the Enterprise Act 2002 are met.”

She added: “As such, we are examining this potential acquisition carefully.”


Sam Trendall

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