Simon segars, chief executive of the uk chipmaker arm holdings, has said that he expects tough and protracted scrutiny from china over nvidias $40bn takeover of the company, as tensions rise over the implications of the contentious deal for the global chip industry.
Chinas chipmakers have urged beijing to probe nvidias proposed acquisition of arm on the basis that it would hand the us company control over essential technology used in many of the worlds smartphones and data centres. that has led to concerns that regulators in china may not sign off the acquisition.
Speaking to the financial times on tuesday, mr segars argued that the chinese regulators would want to review the combination of arm and nvidia thoroughly, though he remained confident the deal would ultimately proceed. its a tough place at the moment with geopolitics so well have to play that very carefully, he said, adding that regulatory clearance across all of its markets will take a long time.
Arm has a joint venture with local investors in china, the control of which has been in dispute. as a result, chinas antitrust regulator will have the right to review the proposed nvidia deal.
Mr segars also dismissed concerns in the uk, where arm is headquartered, over the switch of its ownership from japans softbank to silicon valleys nvidia as overblown. the nationality of the parent company is irrelevant, he said, adding that two of arms three founding shareholders apple and vlsi were american.
The sale of arm, which was bought by softbank in 2016, has led to a backlash in britain over fears that the us technology giant could move the chipmaker, which is widely seen as the crown jewel of the uks technology industry, out of its headquarters in cambridge. the government could still ask the competition and markets authority to review the transaction on national security grounds.
Nvidia has made commitments to keep arm in cambridge and will spend 40m on a new supercomputer for cambridge to ease concerns over the takeover.
Mr segars said he had held early discussions with the uk government, as has nvidia, and that the companys commitments to invest in cambridge should chime with the governments ambition to make the uk an r&d superpower as the citys new computing power attracts more engineers and technology companies. whats not to like here? the 30-year arm veteran said.
Mr segars spoke alongside nvidia chief executive jensen huang at arms annual conference this week. mr huang joked that he had paid an arm and a leg to acquire the british company but that it would be worth every penny over time.
Mr huang tried to allay concerns over nvidias ownership of arm which until now has been a neutral player in the chip industry, licensing its technology to all players saying he would protect that business model.
Mr segars said he had reassured his biggest customers chipmakers that rely on its low-power designs in a similar way to 2016 when softbank took over the company. despite the industrys reliance on arms designs, he said arm and nvidia would need to communicate the positive impact of the takeover. if you upset customers then they will find a different solution to the problem they want to solve. its not take it or leave it, he said.
Arm also unveiled new technology during its developer conference including project triffid, which is testing an ultra-low-power chip design that could be used by logistics companies to monitor food shipments.