SoftBank to sell chip designer Arm to Nvidia in $40 billion deal

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: The logo of SoftBank Group Corp is displayed at SoftBank World 2017 conference in Tokyo © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: The logo of SoftBank Group Corp is displayed at SoftBank World 2017 conference in Tokyo

TOKYO (Reuters) – SoftBank Group Corp said on Monday it has agreed to sell chip designer Arm to Nvidia (NASDAQ:) Corp for as much as $ 40 billion in a deal set to reshape the semiconductor landscape.

The sale will see chip firm Nvidia acquire all of Arm’s shares in return for cash and shares, giving SoftBank and the $ 100 billion Vision Fund, which has a 25% stake in Arm, a stake in Nvidia of between 6.7% to 8.1%.

Nvidia will pay SoftBank $ 21.5 billion in shares and $ 12 billion in cash, including $ 2 billion on signing.

SoftBank could also be paid an additional $ 5 billion in cash or shares depending on Arm’s business performance.

The sale comes nearly four years after the Japanese conglomerate acquired the British chip technology firm for $ 32 billion and at a time SoftBank is selling down stakes in major assets.

The deal will alter the semiconductor landscape by putting a long-neutral technology vendor to Apple Inc (NASDAQ:) and others under the control of a single player.

Nvidia began as a graphics chip designer and has expanded into products for areas including artificial intelligence and data centers.

The Arm acquisition will put Nvidia into even more intense competition with rivals in the data center chip market such as Intel Corp (NASDAQ:) and Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:) Inc because Arm has been developing technology to compete with their chips.

It gives Nvidia control technology of technology from Arm that could be used to make its own central processor chips, doubling down on Nvidia’s strategy of buying up technologies in parts of the booming data center business where it does not currently play.

Earlier in April, Nvidia completed its purchase of Israel-based Mellanox (NASDAQ:) Inc, which makes high-speed networking technology that is used in data centers and supercomputers.

Arm does not make chips but instead has created an instruction set architecture – the most fundamental intellectual property that underpins computing chips – on which it bases designs for computing cores.

Arm licenses its chip designs and technology to companies like Qualcomm (NASDAQ:) Inc, Apple and Samsung Electronics (OTC:) Co Ltd, which in turn use the technology in their chips for smartphones and other devices.

Apple’s forthcoming Mac computers will use Arm-based chips.

SoftBank executives have held early stage talks about taking the Japanese technology group private, according to a person familiar with the matter, and talks could gain momentum following the Arm sale.

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