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Softbank tears off chunk of ARM, feeds it to hungry Saudis

A quarter of prime British chip goodness will fall under Middle Eastern ownership

Softbank is selling a stake in ARM to a Saudi investment group less than a year after buying the Brit chipmaker, according to reports.

The £6.5bn ($8bn) stake – 25 cent of ARM's total value, according to the BBC – will go to Saudi Arabia's new Vision Fund.

The $100bn fund is already due to receive a $25m investment from Softbank but the chunk of ARM is in addition to this, reports Bloomberg.

ARM representatives declined to comment when contacted by The Register, while other news agencies said Softbank declined to provide them a comment too.

The Financial Times reported that the Prime Minister's office raised no concerns about the deal.

ARM has been snapping up smaller companies since its acquisition by Softbank, which itself is becoming more of an overseas investment vehicle than its software distributor and publishing roots suggest. Billionaire chief exec Masayoshi Son has publicly prodded ARM into going hell for leather on the Internet of Things, promising that the bought-out Brits would make a billion IoT chips by 2040, and separately from ARM has been inking the details on the $100bn Vision Fund, half of which comes from the Saudi state, with the other notable contributions coming from Softbank and Abu Dhabi.

Last year ARM assured the British government that it would double its 3,000-strong headcount over the next five years – a claim many viewed with quiet scepticism, given that the usual consequence of a buyout tends to be staff cuts as new owners seek maximum financial returns ASAP.

ARM chip designs are used in 95 per cent of the world's smartphones, 10 per cent of its tablets and 35 per cent of digital TVs. ®

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