SoftBank to buy UK chip designer ARM in $32 billion cash deal

Mon Jul 18, 2016 10:33pm EDT
 
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By Chang-Ran Kim and Kate Holton

TOKYO/LONDON (Reuters) - Japan's SoftBank (9984.T: Quote) will buy Britain's most valuable technology company ARM ARM.L for $32 billion in cash, an audacious attempt to lead the next wave of digital innovation with a chip designer that powers the global mobile phone industry.

Led by the charismatic Japanese investor, Masayoshi Son, SoftBank swooped on the Apple supplier ARM in the three weeks since Britain voted to leave the European Union, a result which stunned financial markets and has sent sterling down 11 percent against both the dollar and yen.

While the drop has made British assets much cheaper for foreign investors, the chief of the telecoms and internet group played down any suggestion that this was an opportunistic deal.

Son said he had been following ARM for the last 10 years and decided now was the right time to invest in a firm that provides the technology in nearly all smartphones including Apple's (AAPL.O: Quote) iPhone and Samsung's (005930.KS: Quote) Galaxy.

ARM is also poised to play a central role in the tech industry's shift to the 'internet of things' (IoT) - a network of devices, vehicles and building sensors that collect and exchange data - a stated focus for SoftBank founder and CEO Son.

"ARM will be the center of the Internet of Things, in which everything will be connected," he told reporters. "IoT is going to be the biggest paradigm shift in human history (and) we have always invested at the beginning of every paradigm shift."

The ARM deal is one of Japan's biggest overseas ventures and the latest in a parade of Japanese companies seeking growth abroad as the domestic economy stagnates.

From a British point of view, the capital investment is so big that it covers approaching three months of the country's huge current account deficit, according to Kit Juckes, head of currency strategy at Societe Generale.   Continued...

 
An ARM and SoftBank Group branded board is displayed at a news conference in London, Britain July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall