SoftBank Group Corp. has agreed to buy U.K.-based chip designer ARM Holdings PLC for a record 24.3 billion pounds ($32.2 billion) in a deal confirmed by both the companies Monday.
The Japanese telecommunications giant will pay 17 pounds for every ARM share under the all-cash offer, a premium of over 40 percent to Friday’s close. ARM’s shares rose as much as 45 percent in trading Monday morning.
“ARM will be an excellent strategic fit within the SoftBank group as we invest to capture the very significant opportunities provided by the ‘Internet of Things,’” SoftBank’s CEO Masayoshi Son said, in a move that comes less than a month after he took back the reigns of the company from Nikesh Arora, his heir apparent who resigned in June.
“This is one of the most important acquisitions we have ever made, and I expect ARM to be a key pillar of SoftBank’s growth strategy going forward,” he said, as the company unveiled plans to double its employee count in the region over five years, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Cambridge-based ARM is a major player in mobile processing, with its processor and graphics technology being used by the world’s leading smartphone manufacturers like Samsung, Huawei and Apple in their in-house microchips. By market value, it is the most valuable tech company listed in London, according to a Reuters report.
SoftBank has raised nearly 2 trillion yen ($19 billion) in cash over the past few months through asset disposals. The sale of $10 billion worth of shares in China’s Alibaba, and its entire stake in Finnish game maker Supercell to Tencent Holdings Ltd. in a sale that is expected to bring more than $7 billion are two major transactions for the group that has rarely exited investments.
The ARM deal is one of Japan’s largest to date and the biggest ever for SoftBank that also controls the loss-ridden U.S. wireless operator Sprint Corp. that it acquired in 2013 for $22 billion.
SoftBank has been trying to cut expenses to revive the U.S.’s fourth-largest mobile carrier and analysts had expected it to use the cash to reduce its mounting debt or buying back its own shares to avoid disillusionment among shareholders.
However, Son said even though he wanted to stay on to develop Sprint, he also aimed to transform SoftBank into an investment powerhouse for technology, Reuters reported. As ARM faces a smartphone slowdown, Son’s focus on the “paradigm shift” in technology — including artificial intelligence — is important for the chip designer.
U.K.’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said the news of the takeover showed that the country’s companies had lost none of their “allure to international investors” despite a slump in the markets following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
“Britain is open for business — and open to foreign investment. Softbank’s decision confirms that Britain remains one of the most attractive destinations globally for investors to create jobs and wealth.”
“And as ARM’s founders will testify, this is the greatest place in the world to start and grow a technology business,” he added in a statement, despite the cautious tone adopted by Prime Minister Theresa May about foreign takeovers of leading U.K. companies just before taking office last week.
SoftBank shares were not traded Monday, a market holiday in Tokyo, where the company is listed.