THE Government today faced calls to block ARM’s takeover by US giant Nvidia amid fears that thousands of tech workers risk losing their jobs across the UK.
Nvidia bought ARM for $40 billion (£31.2 billion) last night. Japanese private equity firm SoftBank put the chip designer up for sale in April when Goldman Sachs was hired to sound out buyers.
ARM is one of the UK’s few world-class tech companies and its technology is at the heart of most smartphones.
But there are mounting fears the firm’s headquarters could be axed when ARM becomes a Nvidia subsidiary.
Nvidia promised that ARM, which has 2500 UK workers, will remain a British firm and plans to build a artificial intelligence research centre in Cambridge.
Nvidia chief executive Jensen Huang said: “We will grow ARM. That means more engineers, not fewer and more research and development. We want it to happen in Cambridge where it all started. ARM will remain registered in the UK .”
But Hermann Hauser, the co-founder at ARM Holdings, urged the Government to step in and stop the deal.
Hauser said: “The words from Nvidia this morning are meaningless unless legally enforceable — there are always nice words during M&A negotiations. The same happened at the start when Cadbury was taken over by Kraft in 2010, but look how that played out.”
He added: “The headquarters will inevitably move to the US, followed by job losses in Cambridge, Manchester, Belfast and Warwick where ARM employs thousands.”
Hauser instead wants to see ARM listed on the London Stock Exchange to “become a British company again”.
SoftBank’s takeover of the firm in 2016 for $32 billion was one of the largest deals to take place after the Brexit referendum. The then Prime Minister Theresa May received assurances that ARM would remain in Cambridge but these stipulations run out next year.
Shadow business secretary Ed Mili-band wants “legally binding assurances” this time too. He told the BBC: “There are two big anxieties over the Nvidia deal — jobs in the UK and whether the headquarters in Cambridge is protected. The Government should insist the headquarters stays in Cambridge.”
In 2016 ARM was a key acquisition for Softbank’s boss, Masayoshi Son, who had lionised its potential. But Softbank has been forced to sell off assets this year amid heavy losses.