Brightstar-parent SoftBank buys chipmaker ARM for £24bn

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Japanese giant has agreed massive deal to buy Cambridge-based manufacturer that makes processors used in Samsung and Apple smartphones

Brightstar-owner SoftBank is set to buy Cambridge-based chipset-maker ARM Holdings in a deal worth £24 billion.

ARM makes chipsets for a number of smartphone manufacturers including the likes of Apple and Samsung, but will become part of the SoftBank group if its shareholders vote to approve the deal.

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 09.31.10In its last financial year, ARM posted revenues of £968 million, up 22 per cent on the previous year, with £511 million profit before tax.

Founded in 1990, it employs more than 3,000 staff. If the deal is completed, SoftBank has promised to increase this base, including doubling staff numbers in the UK in the next five years. It also said it plans to retain its headquarters in Cambridge.

“It is the view of the Board that this is a compelling offer for ARM Shareholders, which secures the delivery of future value today and in cash. ARM will remain a very significant UK business and will continue to play a key role in the development of new technology.

“SoftBank has given assurances that it will invest considerably in the business, including doubling the UK headcount over the next five years and maintaining ARM’s unique culture and business model.

“We believe that by accessing all the resources that SoftBank has to offer, ARM will be able to further accelerate the use of ARM-based technology wherever computing happens.”

Investment spree

It is the latest in a long line of acquisitions from Japanese giant SoftBank, which has participated in more than 140 deals worth $82 billion in the last decade, according to Dealogic.

In 2006, it acquired Vodafone’s loss-making Japanese arm for $15 billion. It also owns US carrier Sprint, which it bought in 2013 for $22.2 billion.

In October 2013, SoftBank paid $1.26 billion to buy a 57 per cent stake in distribution giant Brightstar.

The following February, it completed its acquisition Crewe-based distributor 20:20 Mobile, giving it facilities in the UK, Spain, Hungary, Portugal, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden.

mayoshi sonSoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said: “ARM will be an excellent strategic fit within the SoftBank group as we invest to capture the very significant opportunities provided by the ‘Internet of Things’.

“This investment also marks our strong commitment to the UK and the competitive advantage provided by the deep pool of science and technology talent in Cambridge. As an integral part of the transaction, we intend to at least double the number of employees employed by ARM in the UK over the next five years.

“SoftBank intends to invest in ARM, support its management team, accelerate its strategy and allow it to fully realise its potential beyond what is possible as a publicly listed company. It is also intended that ARM will remain an independent business within SoftBank, and continue to be headquartered in Cambridge, UK.

“This is one of the most important acquisitions we have ever made, and I expect ARM to be a key pillar of SoftBank’s growth strategy going forward.”

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