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EU Commission may extend antitrust probe into Nvidia's $54bn merger with Arm

Investigation to continue into early 2022

Nvidia’s $54 billion bid to takeover British chip designer Arm is reportedly facing more hurdles than expected as the EU Commission extends its antitrust investigation of the deal.

Both companies had expected authorities to scrutinize the merger after Nvidia officially submitted its plans to acquire Arm to the EU, last month. The review process was expected to end on 27 October but has now been extended for another four months, according to Reuters.

In an attempt to persuade regulators to approve its acquisition, Nvidia apparently offered to make concessions although it’s not clear what the company proposed exactly. None of those bargains, however, tackle anti-competition issues, so the EU Commission has apparently decided to prolong its antitrust probe.

“The regulatory process is confidential,” a spokesperson from Nvidia told The Register. “The transaction will help to transform Arm and boost competition and innovation.” The British chip biz declined to comment, as did the EU Commission.

This is not the only obstacle standing in Nvidia’s way. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched its own review and said the merger raised “significant competition concerns" in a report published in August. Officials were mainly concerned that Nvidia could force Arm customers to switch over to its own data center chips, crushing its competitors that also sell Arm-based hardware.

“Arm controls an important input and has market power in the supply of CPU IP for Datacentre CPUs and SmartNICs,” the report said.

"As the longstanding leading supplier with over 90 per cent share of supply, Nvidia also has market power in the supply of Datacentre GPUs. The evidence indicates the Merged Entity could modify the interoperability between Datacentre GPUs and Arm-based Datacentre CPUs and/or SmartNICs, to enhance NVIDIA's products and undermine the operability of rivals' products, so as to de facto 'bundle' the supply of these products."

The CMA is continuing its investigation of the proposed merger, whilst Arm has frozen all hiring of new employees until the deal is closed. ®

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