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ARM Innovation Hub
13 September, 2020 - 20:40 By Tony Quested

What next for Cambridge as Nvidia agrees $40bn Arm deal?

US technology giant Nvidia is understood to have given the UK government firm undertakings about keeping superchip architect Arm in Cambridge after swallowing it for $40 billion.

Nvidia, which is acquiring Arm from Japanese parent SoftBank, is acquiring Cambridge’s globally influential technology business in a cash plus stock raid. Arm chips power phones and compute across the planet with more than 170 billion chips shipped to date.

Nvidia has moved to address fears that it was asset stripping Arm’s IP and likely to cripple the company’s Cambridge presence and workforce.

Business Weekly understands that SoftBank was forced to drop plans to strip out Arm’s Internet of Things expertise for two key reasons.

One was to keep Nvidia at the negotiating table and the second to honour a commitment to the UK government when SoftBank clinched the deal.

When SoftBank paid $32bn for Arm in 2016 the Government insisted that it not only maintained Cambridge headcount but also doubled staff numbers locally in five years – by summer or autumn 2021. SoftBank is a long way off hitting that target.

SoftBank and Nvidia agreeing a price and terms for a deal is the easy part of the deal: There is still much water to flow under the transatlantic bridge – and much of it could be turbulent – before Whitehall sanctions an acquisition.

The beleaguered Government cannot risk accusations of a sell-out by letting the UK’s greatest ever technology business and its assets be smuggled secretively away.

Leading entrepreneurs, including Arm co-founder and Cambridge serial investor Hermann Hauser, have urged the Government to veto the raid. Former Labour Party leader Ed Milliband has also called for the most stringent governance of an acquisition.

Arm and Nvidia were due to address the media this morning (Monday) when it was hoped to get more clarity on the future of some 3,000 Arm jobs and its future in Cambridge.

Another Cambridge company – DisplayLink – is being acquired by US-based Synaptics and is understood to be making up to a third of the Science Park staff redundant.  

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