UK’s move for protecting ARM

Ken Costa writing for Financial Times:

The current bid by Nvidia to acquire the company from SoftBank is being scrutinised by four big regulatory authorities in the US, UK, Europe and China. One of these — very possibly in the UK — will decide that the security and anti-competition implications should result in the bid from Nvidia being turned down. Already the CMA has decided that the behavioural remedies offered by Nvidia would not address its main concerns. This is not the time for remedial action but for asserting the independence of Arm.

STMicroelectronics STM32F205 integrated circuit microchips (IC’s), designed by ARM Ltd., in a storage tray
The digital gold

Processors have become new flash points. Starved of any major success story after Brexit, the UK wants some leeway and wants to block the sale of ARM chips to NVidia. The author makes a “heart-wrenching” case around “employment”. However, the company designs chips and gets them manufactured from third party manufacturers. It will only increase bureaucracy and increase the tug-of-war for its ownership.

The argument for maintaining the independence and neutrality of Arm though an IPO is separate from whether there is a competition issue. Arm is a key node in the British tech ecosystem. In the UK’s Integrated Security Review published in March, the prime minister, Boris Johnson, highlighted technology as “essential to our prosperity and competitiveness in the digital age”.

I’ll be watching the developments closely.

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