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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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