Arm most likely to list on the Nasdaq, says SoftBank CEO

Hopes of securing London listing for UK chip designer may be in vain

Arm is most likely to list on the US stock exchange Nasdaq, according to Masayoshi Son, chief executive of SoftBank Group, which bought the chip designer in 2016 for $32 billion.

Although he stressed no final decision had been made, Son told investors that the British chip designer was better suited to a US listing. "Most of Arm's clients are based in Silicon Valley and... stock markets in the US would love to have Arm," Son told shareholders at the company's annual general meeting.

He said there were also requests to list Arm in London without elaborating on where they came from. The entrepreneur did not say whether the conglomerate is considering a secondary listing for Arm there.

The CEO then spent much of the presentation building up Arm's prospects, which may have been dented after a planned sale to GPU manufacturer Nvidia fell though. The Cambridge-based company, founded in 1990, was listed in Britain with a secondary listing in the US before the Japanese investment fund swallowed it up.

Since the Nvidia deal collapse, Arm has become the subject of a political tussle in the UK.

The Financial Times reported that the Conservative UK government is considering whether to apply the National Security and Investment Act (NSIA), which came into force at the start of the year, in a bid to have SoftBank change its mind over listing Arm exclusively on the Nasdaq in New York, as it has previously indicated.

Arm is a prized success story of the UK tech industry. Growing out of the Acorn Computer – the company responsible for the UK smash-hit PC BBC Micro – Arm went on to see the majority of the world's mobile phones and smartphone rely on at least one processor stemming from its designs.

The company's sale to SoftBank Group added to the sense that whatever innovation may occur in the UK, it will eventually be snapped up by foreign concerns. ®

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