SoftBank taps Arm CEO Rene Haas for its board of directors

Ahead of planned IPO, parent company moves executive pawn into place

SoftBank has nominated Arm CEO Rene Haas to be appointed to its board of directors, in another sign the Japanese tech investment holding biz is planning to keep the chip designer under its influence after the IPO.

Confirmation [PDF] of Haas as the sole candidate nominated for election to the board was made this morning, and is subject to approval at the next annual general meeting of shareholders on June 21.

Haas would replace Kentaro Kawabe, who is standing down as board member, and Softbank is proposing the re-election of the other existing eight members, including CEO Masayoshi Son.

The move happening now may be significant as SoftBank is preparing Arm for an IPO before the end of the year, and this indicates the Japanese giant will retain some control over the chip design company.

Last year, it was reported that SoftBank was intending to keep a majority shareholding in Arm after the flotation, selling off a smaller portion of the business than originally planned.

Masayoshi Son also pledged his life to growing the chip design subsidiary of his investment empire during a speech that opened Softbank’s Q2 earnings report last year.

“In the coming few years, I only like to focus on this thing. So the next explosive growth of Arm is something that I would like to concentrate on, and I devote myself into that,” he said.

SoftBank may be even more keen to keep Arm close as the company reported revenues up 28 percent to $746 million for the quarter up to the end of 2022, whereas SoftBank itself reported a $5.9 billion net loss at about the same time, owing to a fall in the valuations of the myriad other tech companies and startups it has a stake in.

Haas was only appointed CEO of Arm just over a year ago, taking over from the previous chief Simon Segars. Before becoming CEO, he served as president of the Arm IP Products Group (IPG) since 2017, and did a seven-year stint at GPU-flinger Nvidia prior to joining Arm in 2013.

At the end of last year, Arm announced it was adding former Intel and Qualcomm executives to its own board in preparation for the IPO.

Rosemary Schooler is an ex VP and general manager for Intel's Data Center and AI sales division, while Paul Jacobs was formerly CEO at Qualcomm.

Haas praised the two for their insights and depth of experience and said they would strengthen Arm's leadership position and help prepare it for the public markets.

In March, Arm confirmed that its shares will be listed only in New York immediately following its IPO, rather than a dual listing with London that the UK government had been lobbying for.

However, while Haas said at the time that pursuing a US-only listing of Arm was the best path forward, he added that the company would consider a subsequent listing in due course.

Arm declined to comment on the board nomination. ®

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