US chip giant Qualcomm said it was open to the idea of investing in Arm if regulators banned its sale to Nvidia for $40 billion. Qualcomm's new CEO, Cristiano Amon, said Qualcomm is willing to buy a stake in Arm along with other investors in the industry if SoftBank, the current owner of Arm, lists the company on the stock market instead of selling it to Nvidia.
Amon said, if Arm has an independent future, I think you might find a lot of interest from a lot of companies within the ecosystem, including Qualcomm, to invest in Arm.
Amon noted that Qualcomm is open about this and has held discussions with other companies that feel the same way. Arm sprang from an early computing company called Acorn Computers in 1990. The company's energy-efficient chip architecture is used in 95 percent of the world's smartphones and 95 percent of chips designed in China. The company licenses its chip designs to more than 500 companies that use them to make their own chips.
An Nvidia spokesperson said Arm needs more than an IPO if it is to reach its full potential. The arm needs new technology that it can provide to Arm licensees everywhere, which is why we agreed to buy Arm. Our technologies are integrated with Qualcomm and we welcome their assistance in creating new technologies and products for the entire Arm ecosystem.
Last September, the companies announced that Nvidia had acquired the British company, and implementation was expected to take about 18 months. Since then, Qualcomm has been telling regulators around the world that it is against the deal, as have Microsoft and Google. The companies say they oppose the takeover because there is a risk that Nvidia will become in control of the British company's technology and prevent other chipmakers from using the company's intellectual property.
Companies are questioning Nvidia's ability to take full advantage of the acquisition without denying access to the British company's chip designs.
Nvidia said it maintains the Open Arm licensing model. But the Federal Trade Commission, the European Commission, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority, and the Chinese State Administration for Market Regulation are all in the process of investigating the deal.
The British company has a joint venture called Arm China with Chinese private equity firm Hopu Investments. Arm China is headquartered in Shanghai. This means that the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and the Chinese State Market Regulatory Administration have the right to review the deal. Nvidia asked Chinese regulators to approve the deal in recent weeks and said the regulatory process was secret. But it remains confident of getting approval and closing the deal in early 2022.