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NVIDIA-Arm Acquisition Raises "Significant Competition Concerns:" UK Competition Regulator

The proposed $40 billion acquisition of Arm Holdings Plc from SoftBank by NVIDIA raises "significant competition concerns," says the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The scathing report by the UK's competition regulator goes on to say that the merger will stifle innovation. "We're concerned that NVIDIA controlling Arm could create real problems for NVIDIA's rivals by limiting their access to key technologies, and ultimately stifling innovation across a number of important and growing markets. This could end up with consumers missing out on new products, or prices going up," it reads.

In its first reaction, NVIDIA sought time to address CMA's concerns. "We look forward to the opportunity to address the CMA's initial views and resolve any concerns the Government may have. We remain confident that this transaction will be beneficial to Arm, its licensees, competition, and the UK," the company said. Although a subsidiary of Japan's Softbank, the report by UK's competition regulator does have some bearing on the fate of Arm, which remains headquartered in the UK.

NVIDIA-ARM Acquisition Facing Delays, Still Pending Regulatory Approvals

The NVIDIA acquisition of ARM from the clutches of Softbank (for a cool, $40 billion) is increasingly looking stretched towards the future. When the acquisition deal was first announced back in September 14th, 2020, NVIDIA announced it expected the business to be closed within an 18-month timeframe, which would place it towards March 2022. However, that objective may prove to have been set too aggressively; we're now in July, and NVIDIA still hasn't received any sort of regulatory approval towards its embattled, and mostly negatively received, plans for the acquisition of ARM.

Particularly here is NVIDIA's submission of the acquisition deal towards the European Commission - which still hasn't happened. Seeking regulatory approval on acquisitions usually is a bureaucratic minefield; even more so when we're talking about tech industry giants such as NVIDIA and ARM and the possibility of market monopolization. It's expected that any regulatory appraisal of the acquisition will take upwards of six months, considering the scope, scale, and legal hurdles involved, and with the European Commission's summer holidays starting today, NVIDIA will now only be able to submit acquisition documentation come September. That gives the European Commission only six months to evaluate an acquisition of this magnitude if NVIDIA were to complete the deal in its announced timeframe; regulators, however, usually aren't too interested in bending over backwards to accelerate timeframes just because of a company's interest, even if that company is NVIDIA. Should the acquisition go wayside or be delayed far too long for ARM's interests, the company is expected to opt for an IPO so as to raise investment.

NVIDIA to Invest At Least $100 Million in UK's Most Powerful Supercomputer

NVIDIA, the maker of high-performance GPUs, has yesterday announced that the company will be investing at least 100 million US Dollars into UK's most powerful supercomputer. Back in October of 2020, NVIDIA announced that it will be building a supercomputer in Cambridge, UK, that will be called Cambridge-1. However, the original plan suggested that the investment would amount to around 40 million GBP, which is roughly 55.6 million USD. Now, it seems that NVIDIA is doubling the initial investment plan and the company now wants to invest 100 million USD, just at the initial phase, which would mean that the total budget could be much greater.

As the company is facing difficulties in the process of acquiring Arm Ltd. from Softbank, by building the most powerful supercomputer in the UK, it hopes to show its commitment to growing UK's Arm operations. And more specifically, it is building the Cambridge-1 in the same place as Arm's HQ, which is also Cambridge. In terms of technologies that will end up in this supercomputer, we are still not supplied with exact information, however, we can expect it to combine the latest CPU, GPU, and networking technologies into one powerful machine.

Qualcomm Moots a Consortium of Chipmakers to Buy Arm if NVIDIA's Bid Fails

Qualcomm is proposing a consortium of companies that will make a competitive bid to acquire Arm Holdings from SoftBank, if NVIDIA falters in its acquisition, according to a report in The Telegraph citing an interview with Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon. Unlike NVIDIA's bid, where a single company that's in the SoC designing business, gets to own Arm IP, giving it a competitive upper-hand over other Arm licensees; the consortium would be made up of several companies, including Qualcomm, one of Arm's largest IP licensees, which makes SoCs for smartphones, tablets, wearables, and IoT devices, across all market segments.

"If Arm has an independent future, I think you will find there is a lot of interest from a lot of the companies within the ecosystem, including Qualcomm, to invest in Arm," said Amon. "We will definitely be open to it, and we have had discussions with other companies that feel the same way. That's the reason it's a logical conclusion for us, and for many other companies, that to invest in a strong and independent Arm is probably the best for everyone," he added. NVIDIA is in the process of acquiring Arm Holdings, lock, stock, and barrel, in a humongous $40 billion deal, which has run into hold-ups with competition regulators across the globe, including the UK, the home of Arm Holdings.

NVIDIA Faces Challenges: Qualcomm, Google, and Microsoft Protest Arm Acquisition

In September of last year, NVIDIA has officially announced that the current industry rumor about its big acquisition was true. The company has announced that it is acquiring Arm Limited from the Softbank Group. Paying as much as $40 billion for the purchase, NVIDIA is gaining access to the complete company, along with its extensive portfolio of IP and knowledge. That means that NVIDIA is not essentially a holder of the Arm ISA, which is the most dominant ISA within mobile processors. Such a deal, however, is a bit hard to process without some troubles popping up along the way. As Arm held a neutral position as IP provider, NVIDIA is expected to remain as such, and the company even promised to stay true to that.

However, not everything is going as planned. Before completing the acquisition process, NVIDIA must first comply with regulators from all around the world, including the US, UK, EU, and China. If any objections raise within those regions, they are to be interrogated. Today, Google, Microsoft, and Qualcomm have objected that NVIDIA's Arm acquisition is hurting the market and are urging antitrust officials to intervene. Mentioned companies believe that NVIDIA's move is hurting the market and the company could limit its competitors from accessing the IP, thus breaking Arm's neutral position as an IP provider. NVIDIA has made statements that Arm will remain in such a position, however, the skepticism of the mentioned companies is slowing the merger. Now all that remains is to see how the conflicted companies solve their worries.

NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang Says NVIDIA-Branded CPUs Could be Coming

It was just yesterday that we have received the news of NVIDIA's latest move - acquiring Arm Ltd. from Softbank Group for $40 billion. However, it seems like there are more reasons for the deal than what meets the eye. In the briefing regarding the acquisition, NVIDIA's CEO was asked a question, by Timothy Prickett Morgan, from TheNextPlatform, about NVIDIA's plans for a possible implementation of Arm's Neoverse core in an NVIDIA-branded CPU design and start selling them to data centers. To that question, Mr. Huang gave a prolonged answer indirectly saying that the company can build the CPU if there is a market for it.

He explains that there is an entire network surrounding the Arm ecosystem and that there may be customers interested in contracting NVIDIA to build them semi-custom or completely custom chip based on Arm ISA on NVIDIA's own interest. Any of these options are available and Mr. Haung says that they are there for the best interest of the ecosystem to enrich it enhance it even further. This means that it is just a matter of time before we see NVIDIA-branded CPU make its way to data-center or some other areas of technology, so we have to wait and see for ourselves.

NVIDIA Fully Absorbs Mellanox Technologies, Now Called NVIDIA Networking

NVIDIA over the weekend formally renamed Mellanox Technologies to NVIDIA Networking. The graphics and scalar computing giant had acquired Mellanox in April 2020, in a deal valued at $7 billion. It is expected that the NVIDIA corporate identity will cover all Mellanox products, including NICs, switches, and interconnect solutions targeted at large-scale data-centers and HPC environments. Mellanox website now defaults to NVIDIA, with the announcement banner "Mellanox Technologies is now NVIDIA Networking." With the acquisition of Mellanox, a potential bid for Softbank's Arm Holdings, and market leadership in the scalar compute industry, NVIDIA moves close to becoming an end-to-end enterprise solution provider.

NVIDIA Might Close the Deal of Arm Acquisition Before Summer Ends

Last time we have reported that the situation with NVIDIA taking over Arm is getting serious, and it was reported that their talks were getting quite advanced. Today, we are getting new information regarding this, from the sources of Evening Standard. According to their information, the deal is supposed to be done by the time summer ends. That puts the timing of the deal very close to the present, so we could expect to see more details very soon. The venture is worth a lot, as Softbank is asking as much as 40 billion GBP, which is around 52.62 billion USD. It also goes to show just how much Arm Ltd. has grown in value from the 31 billion USD number Softbank paid in 2016 to acquire it.

Softbank Approaches TSMC and Foxconn for Potential Arm Buyout

Softbank-owned company Arm Ltd. has been a subject to a round of rumors regarding the potential buyout of the company because Softbank has considered selling it for some time. The company has approached NVIDIA, with their talks getting "advanced", and Samsung wants a piece of the cake as well. It is now reported that Softbank has approached TSMC and Foxconn as well, regarding a potential Arm takeover. In the report by Nikkei Asia, we have found out that Arm has shared the same financial data points and business plan with TSMC and Foxconn, the same way company did with NVIDIA.

If TSMC and Foxconn have any interest in the company, it would be necessary to create a consortium that would operate Arm Ltd. With NVIDIA, Samsung, and these two new players, the consortium would already count four companies. Nikkei sources claim that Apple and Qualcomm have been also included in the poll of potential buyers, which would make the idea of establishing a consortium very valid.

Arm Co-Founder Doesn't Think NVIDIA Owning the Company Would be in Its Best Interests

Arm co-founder Hermann Hauser recently gave an interview to BBC where he expressed some concerns regarding the prospective buy acquisition from NVIDIA, which has been in talks with Arm owner Softbank towards the IP-designer's acquisition. As Hauser puts it, "It's one of the fundamental assumptions of the ARM business model that it can sell to everybody," Hauser told BCC, "The one saving grace about Softbank was that it wasn't a chip company, and retained ARM neutrality. If it becomes part of Nvidia, most of the licensees are competitors of Nvidia, and will of course then look for an alternative to ARM."

Hauser doesn't think the NVIDIA deal will follow through due to these aspects of the chip design ecosystem, with many Arm clients - such as Intel, Apple, Qualcomm, TSMC, Samsung, among others - being direct or otherwise indirect competitors to NVIDIA. Hauser thinks that Arm would be much better served through a British government intervention in bringing the company back towards the British fold: "The great opportunity that the cash needs of Softbank presents is to bring ARM back home and take it public, with the support of the British government." The Softbank acquisition occurred back in 2016 and cost the company some $24 billion; however, recent estimates from New Street Research LLP placed Arm's valuation at USD $44 billion if its IPO took off in 2021, and as much as $68 billion by 2025.

Samsung Joins Arm Foray, Eyes Stakes Instead of Buyout

Samsung Electronics has joined the race to buy at least a slice of Arm Holdings from Japan's SoftBank, if not an all-out acquisition bid like the one from NVIDIA. According to a report by The Korea Times, As of now, the Korean semiconductor giant, which is also an Arm licensee like NVIDIA, is eying a tiny 3-5 percent take in Arm Holdings. A top industry official on condition of anonymity told the Korean paper, that Arm is likely to be acquired by a consortium of multiple companies from the semiconductor industry, given the complex shareholding pattern of Arm Holdings.

It is hence likely that NVIDIA's rival isn't directly Samsung, but rather an amorphous consortium that includes it. At the outset, Samsung's stake purchase could raise the valuation of Arm, making it that much more difficult for NVIDIA. The same official also comments on the uphill battle NVIDIA faces in its Arm bid, and doubted the company's financial prowess to pull something like this off. "NVIDIA won't become the sole suitor for Arm as the company needs to win approvals from fair trade authorities in countries that are doing business with the British company. I think it will be difficult for NVIDIA to gain approval from any of those authorities," he said.

Arm China Goes Rogue, Ex-CEO Blocking the Business

Arm Ltd., owned by Softbank, has a division specially tailored for China, called Arm China. That division used to operate in Shenzen and it cooperated with Chinese customers. Today in a surprising turn of events, we have information that UK-based Arm Ltd. accuses Arm China ex-CEO of blocking its business, as the Chinese division goes rogue. The Arm China division used to have Mr. Allen Wu as its CEO, who was fired back in June. However, Mr. Wu has refused to cooperate and refused to step down from his position, remaining in control of the business without the consent of UK-based headquarters.

The situation has escalated to a point where Mr. Wu is "propagating false information and creating a culture of fear and confusion among Arm China employees," says Arm in a statement for Bloomberg. "Allen's focus on his own self-preservation has also put China semiconductor innovation at risk as he has attempted to block the critical communication and support our China partners require from Arm for ongoing and future chip designs." It is also said that Mr. Wu has refused to hold an event meant to connect Chinese chipmakers to Arm Ltd. He has hired personal security so no Arm Ltd. representatives can get to him. It is a waiting game to see how well Arm Ltd. can manage this situation, so we have to wait and see.

NVIDIA Interested in Acquiring Arm from SoftBank

The biggest tech news story from last week was Japan's SoftBank contemplating the sale of Arm, one of the hottest pieces of tech IP out there. Turns out, this has piqued NVIDIA's interest. The graphics and scalar compute giant recently surpassed Intel in market capitalization, and has the resources to pull off what could end up being the biggest tech acquisition in history. When it was acquired by SoftBank, Arm Holdings valued at $32 billion, and it's only conceivable that the firm's current valuation is significantly higher for SoftBank to dangle it out in the market. NVIDIA is already an Arm licensee, and following its acquisition of Mellanox, has stated intent to go big in the datacenter industry.

Intel files an Anti-trust Case Against SoftBank-owned Tech Firm

Intel filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Fortress Investment Group, a firm owned by Japan's SoftBank, over alleged malpractices with their patents. Intel alleges that the company stockpiled patents to make a living out of IP disputes with other companies, including Intel. The complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose alleges that Fortress bought up over 1,000 U.S. technology patents, some of which include patents from NXP Semiconductors. It's now using these patents to get Intel to pay up a royalty on every processor sold since 2011. SoftBank bought Fortress in 2017 for USD $3.3 billion as part of a massive takeover of the tech world. One of SoftBank's other priced possessions include ARM.

The lawsuit alleges a motive behind Fortress's behavior. "One way in which Fortress has tried to turn around its performance and justify SoftBank's investment in it is through increased speculation on patent assertions," the lawsuit says. Intel accused Fortress of patent-trolling, alleging that the company's move to soak up tech patents constitutes anti-competitive behavior as it's driven by the idea that the patents would cost less than what other tech companies would pay up to avert an IP lawsuit.

Softbank Dumps its Entire NVIDIA Stock Worth $3.6 Billion

Japan's Softbank is known for far-sighted strategic investments in the technology industry. It shook Silicon Valley this morning by announcing a sale of its entire NVIDIA shareholding, valued on December 31 at JPY 39.8 billion, or USD $3.6 billion. It's the worst possible time to be NVIDIA's CFO, with the company having shed over 50 percent in value in the wake of the crypto-currency fall, mediocre demand for RTX 20-series graphics cards, and "deteriorating economic conditions in China" for the company. NVIDIA recently trimmed its outlook for revenues from gaming hardware sales by $500 million, eroding more share value. Softbank's tech portfolio now includes ARM Holdings, Uber, WeWork, Slack, among dozens of other tech startups.

NVIDIA's Stock Has Been Plunging Since October; Softbank Reported to be Looking for a Way Out

The stock markets are the financial equivalent of a fickle mistress. Just ask NVIDIA. The company has, in recent months, introduced their Turing architecture and derived products - a move NVIDIA deemed such a significant leap over its previous generations that it prompted a change from the GTX of old to a new RTX moniker. The company's latest financial results also reported a 21% increase in revenue YoY, and a 2% increase relative to the last quarter. Despite this and increased cash dividends being delivered to the hands of investors, festive must not be NVIDIA's mind right now.

SoftBank Strikes Again: Purchases Robot Company Extraordinaire Boston Dynamics

SoftBank has to be the most high-level investor in the tech world today, with multiple headline-grabbing purchases in the last year alone. First, it was ARM's multi-billion dollar purchase, which shook the tech industry almost to its knees. Then, the acquisition of a $4 billion dollar stake on NVIDIA, which is increasingly looking like a great move (and is partially responsible for NVIDIA's soaring market cap.)

Now, SoftBank has moved to acquire Google parent company Alphabet Inc's Boston Dynamics, the engineering and robotics design firm best known for being compared to the manufacturing arm of Skynet. Masayoshi Son, Chairman & CEO of SoftBank Group Corp., said that "Smart robotics are going to be a key driver of the next stage of the Information Revolution," and that he and the full might of SoftBank are looking forward to "supporting them as they continue to advance the field of robotics and explore applications that can help make life easier, safer and more fulfilling." Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but as part of it, SoftBank has also agreed to acquire Japanese bipedal robotics company Schaft. SoftBank is the octopus of the tech world, with tendrils extending towards the technologies that look to be most important in our collective future. The company already has the high efficiency processing, deep learning and AI chops for a robotic future with their acquisition of ARM and investment in NVIDIA - now, they're adding a manufacturing arm. Is this Skynet's inception?

SoftBank Grabs 4 Billion Dollar Stake in NVIDIA, Becomes 4th Largest Shareholder

NVIDIA has seen impressive growth over the past year in all sectors, and not just the usual ones such as PC gaming. Deep learning, Artificial Intelligence, all these have seen growth with the chip maker presenting some compelling products over the past year.

This growth has apparently garnered some attention from investment group SoftBank, whom have just placed a nice 4 Billion dollar investment in the company in exchange for a 4.9 percent stake. This amount is carefully calculated: It's pretty much the largest amount they can invest without having to seek regulatory approval in the United States. This also makes SoftBank NVIDIA's 4th largest shareholder, and is in line with SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son's plan to become the biggest investor in technology over the next decade.

It's surely a vote of confidence in the chip maker in the most direct language possible: Money. Furthermore, one has to ask if this is not the beginning of more investments from SoftBank in the future.

VR is Dead? UK Firm "Improbable" Raises $500m

Improbable, which was founded five years ago by Herman Narula and Rob Whitehead, has achieved a Softbank (the company that purchased ARM backing in a funding round that values the business at more than $1bn. >Despite this cash injection, it looks like Improbable will stay independent to work on their purported aim: to build large-scale virtual worlds and simulations. These could be leveraged by games developers, or some other, non-gaming investments and applications, such as transport systems modelling, virtual couch-travelling, and military applications.

Founder Herman Narula said that Improbable's vision "is to create completely new realities, massive virtual worlds that can change the way we live and work and can impact the way we understand some of the hardest problems." The company believes it has developed revolutionary technology with its Spatial OS operating system, which it has recently opened up to other developers. A Google partnership to put its system on the search giant's cloud, thus allowing small developers to create massive simulations without much infrastructure of their own, means real business for this company, and the backing of one of tech's giants lends credence to their ambitions. Let's see where this leads, but it seems that tales of VR's death were greatly exaggerated. You can discuss these finding here, on our very own TPU Virtual Reality Club.

SoftBank to Sell 25% Stake on ARM to Saudi Investment Group

After pulling off one of the highest-value acquisitions ever in the tech world through its purchase of ARM for $31 billion in September 2016, SoftBank is now looking to sell 25% of the company to a Saudi investment group. The $8 billion stake in ARM is being sold to Vision Fund, a $100 billion technology fund created by SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son. Six months later, SoftBank is in the final-stage talks towards conclusion of the sale.

This seems like an overly fast negotiation time towards the selling of such a large stake on ARM - especially considering the companies' increasing importance in the technology sector. ARM designs power more than 90% of the world's smartphones, and recent announcements of companies such as Microsoft in increasing ARM's presence in the server space point only to increased growth of the company. A sale in this state of affairs (and with such admittedly little information) seems a little... untimely.
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