In the wake of the historic Brexit vote and the fall of the Pound, the UK is now witnessing its biggest-ever technology exit. Today, Arm Holdings confirmed that Japan’s Softbank Group has offered to pay £24.3 billion ($32 billion) to acquire the company — known for its chip designs for mobile handsets (Apple is a customer) as well as for processors that will power hardware in Internet of Things networks. It’s the IoT piece that interests Softbank the most, the company said.
Both boards are recommending the deal, both Softbank and Arm said in statements today, but the deal will still need to get regulatory approval. Softbank has made many asset disposals of late, such as selling off its stake in Supercell and part of its very valuable Alibaba stake, but notably it is also entering into a bridge loan deal for 1 trillion yen to finance the acquisition.
The company will remain an independent business in the UK post-acquisition, Softbank said, headquartered in Cambridge, UK.
“We have long admired ARM as a world renowned and highly respected technology company that is by some distance the market-leader in its field. 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,” said Masayoshi Son, Chairman and CEO of SoftBank, in a statement. “This investment also marks our strong commitment to the UK and the competitive advantage provided by the deep pool of science and technology talent in Cambridge. As an integral part of the transaction, we intend to at least double the number of employees employed by ARM in the UK over the next five years… 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.”
Arm was equally endorsing of the deal.
“It is the view of the Board that this is a compelling offer for ARM Shareholders, which secures the delivery of future value today and in cash. The Board of ARM is reassured that ARM will remain a very significant UK business and will continue to play a key role in the development of new technology,” said Stuart Chambers, Chairman of ARM, in a statement. “SoftBank has given assurances that it will invest considerably in the business, including doubling the UK headcount over the next five years and maintaining ARM’s unique culture and business model. ARM is an outstanding company with an exceptional track record of growth. The Board believes that by accessing all the resources that SoftBank has to offer, ARM will be able to further accelerate the use of ARM-based technology wherever computing happens.”
There are two parts of the deal that fit for Softbank. The company does indeed have an extensive mobile business, which has been ARM’s bread and butter for years (and even spurred rumors that Apple might buy the company back in 2010). But back in 2013, Arm could see the writing on the wall for the eventual shift in mobile (and subsequent slowdown of handset sales, which has come to pass), and it itself made a big investment into IoT by acquiring Sensinode. This, it turns out, was a pretty prescient and smart move, considering that this part of the business is what motivated this deal.
The deal works out to 1,700 pence per ARM Share, a premium of 43.0 percent on the closing price of 1,189 pence per ARM Share on July 15, 2016.
More to come.