Arm has 11 months to hire 490 UK techies. Good thing there isn't a pandemic on. Or, say, Brexit

But chip biz is 'confident it will hit that target' in time

It's crunch time at Arm as the chip designer races to meet a legally binding recruitment goal by September 2021 made during its 2016 acquisition by Softbank.

Arm has a little less than 11 months to recruit 490 new workers, with the lion's share of positions in technical roles.

The dilemma stems from an agreement made with the London-based Panel on Takeover and Mergers (commonly referred to as the Takeover Panel), when the new Japanese owner of Arm promised to double its UK headcount to 3,494 from 2016's 1,747 [PDF].

Complicating matters further, at least 70 per cent of Arm's workforce must be in roles deemed "technical". This condition was presumably conceived as a safeguard against either Arm or parent Softbank curtailing recruitment of highly paid engineers and architects in favour of cheaper, unskilled positions.

The latest update provided to the Takeover Panel shows Softbank has made some progress towards its goal. A Post-Offer Undertaking made last week showed its current headcount at 3,004, with 2,238 employees working in technical roles. All roles were listed as full time, with Arm reporting no part-timers on its payroll.

Technical positions accounted for 74.5 per cent of its headcount, a figure exceeding the target set by the Takeover Panel, but is nonetheless a drop from 2016, when 77.5 per cent of workers were in technical roles.

Arm faces some potential headwinds in the coming months as it aims to recruit the final promised 490 workers. The COVID-19 pandemic massively complicates recruitment efforts, making it hard to interview and onboard any new workers. On the Brexit front, the UK's transition period is set to expire in the coming months. Any new immigration regime will prove inevitably more bureaucratic and expensive than freedom of movement.

In a statement provided to El Reg, an Arm spokesperson said: "Arm is on track to meet the commitment of doubling its UK workforce by 5th September 2021 and is confident it will hit that target."

Failing to meet this target could potentially complicate Softbank's attempt to offload Arm to US graphics giant Nvidia. In September, Nvidia confirmed it would acquire Arm for $40bn, representing an $8bn markup on the original purchase price of $32bn. This deal will require regulatory sign-off, both in the UK and China, where Arm has significant (and semi-autonomous) operations. ®

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