Japanese telecom giant SoftBank is all set to sell 25 percent stake of smartphone chip designer ARM, which it acquired in September last year, to the $100 billion investment fund setup by the company with support from Saudi Arabia.
The 25% stake, worth approximately $8 billion, is being bought by SoftBank’s Vision Fund, which is now funded by Mubadala, a state-backed Abu Dhabi investment group, according to the Financial Times. Mubadala is planning to commit $15 billion to the Vision Fund, with sources in on the negotiations claiming that Mubadala wants the fund to own a portion of ARM. A Mubadala spokesperson commented:
We’re having ongoing, fruitful discussions over our participation in the fund… Arm is certainly a strong technology company with great, continued potential. The Abu Dhabi group has been focused on growing its technology investments over the past decade, including in the semiconductor sector.
SoftBank Vision Fund is gunning for a $100 billion target. According to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund’s statement last year, it would contribute up to $45 billion. Others who’ve invested in the fund include Apple, Qualcomm and Oracle Founder Larry Ellison.
Masayoshi Son, founder and CEO of SoftBank, has nurtured the company into a global internet and telecommunication powerhouse, now aiming to fuse international capital to go after further investments on behalf of his company.
SoftBank signed the agreement to buy ARM for $32.4 billion in July 2016, mere weeks after the momentous Brexit vote. The purchase of the chip designer was cited as a fulfillment of Son’s desire to break into the Internet of Things and connected devices market.
In the post-Brexit atmosphere, there were of course concerns raised about ‘selling the crown jewels’ of the British tech sector to a foreign investor. ARM’s founder, Hermann Hauser, spoke of the deal as one of the “sad and unintended consequences” of leaving the EU.
However, Downing Street said the deal was a “vote of confidence” in Britain. SoftBank, as part of the terms of the acquisition, pledged to double Arm’s UK-based workforce by 2020 and keep its headquarters in the UK, as a symbol of its commitment to Britain.
Today’s new deal will probably invite further critique as Son is seen to be giving more of ARM away to a diverse array of foreign investors as he cements his status as a global deal maker.