Opinion: Nvidia's bad deal is not yet done: Page 3 of 4

September 14, 2020 //By Peter Clarke
Opinion: Nvidia's bad deal is not yet done
Nvidia has pulled off a coup in gaining agreement to buy IP licensor ARM Ltd. for up to $40 billion, but similarly large deals have failed in the past and so too may this one.

Hermann Hauser, one of the founders of the original Acorn RISC Machines Ltd., the precursor to ARM, has spoken out before against the proposed Nvidia deal. He has called for the UK to put three conditions on the sale going ahead:  a jobs guarantee for the UK; the continuation of the ARM open licensing business model and an exception to US security reviews of its client relationships.

If these conditions are not met, he wants the UK government to withhold permission for the deal and back a flotation of ARM on the London Stock Exchange with the UK government as an anchor investor. This would mark a return to a culture of national champions but is not beyond the bounds of possibility.

Which brings us to the final element in this jig-saw; regulatory approval in a time of global trade hostility and geopolitical tension.

Nvidia has estimated that the deal could take 18 months to complete. It's previous deal to take over Mellanox took over a year. But the longer such deals take to complete the more time there is for the conditions that made the deal possible to shift.

Qualcomm's attempt to takeover NXP Semiconductor in 2017 and 2018 was of a similar scale (see Qualcomm raises bid for NXP to $44 billion). The company was keen to broaden its footprint from mobile communications into automotive and industrial but was forced to walk away from the deal after it failed to secure Chinese regulatory approval.

At the time the failed deal was considered a victim of the US-China trade tension. Tension has increased and relations have deteriorated considerably since then so if anything a Chinese block on the Nvidia deal should now be more likely. And in the case of ARM there is unfinished business in China.

Next: Unfinished business


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