Report: In Wake of NVIDIA’s Failed Acquisition Bid, Goldman to Take Arm Public with $60B Valuation

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In the end, Arm Ltd. may generate more cash by going public than it would have if the attempted NVIDIA acquisition had gone through.

A report from the Reuters news service stated that SoftBank Group, the owner of Arm Lt., will select Goldman Sachs “as the lead underwriter on the initial public offering of Arm Ltd. that could value the British chip designing company at as much as $60 billion.”

That’s $20 billion more than NVIDIA had planned to pay for the company – an acquisition  announced in September 2020 and dropped last month by NVIDIA due to multiple roadblocks from antitrust regulators in the U.S., Europe and Asia. SoftBank has since stated it will likely list Arm on the Nasdaq exchange by March of next year, according to Reuters, adding that SoftBank, Arm and Goldman Sachs declined comment.

Arm has benefited from the global surge in semiconductor demand, reporting sales growth of 40 percent to $2 billion during the three quarters ending in December.

Arm CPU technology, used in multiple computing device types, from smart phones to PCs, also is taking on a growing role in HPC. The world’s most powerful supercomputer, Fujitsu’s Fugaku system at the RIKEN Scientific Research Institute in Japan, is powered by Arm chips.

In addition, though NVIDIA lost in its attempt to acquire Arm, it remains an Arm technology licensee. And this week, in a bid to take on the x86 architecture’s long dominance in data center server chips, the company announced its first Arm Neoverse-based center CPU. The NVIDIA Grace CPU Superchip comprises two  chips connected, coherently over NVLink-C2C, a new high-speed, low-latency, chip-to-chip interconnect, and packs 144 Arm cores in a single socket for estimated performance of 740 on the SPECrate2017_int_base benchmark.

And in remarks to the press this week, NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang said that while he’s disappointed the Arm deal fell through, working with Arm on the deal pushed Arm toward adding more HPC capabilities.

Reuters also noted that after the acquisition attempt was dropped, Arm named Rene Haas, a seven-year veteran of NVIDIA who joined Arm nine years ago, to replace Simon Segars as CEO.

Group Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son of Softbank, which took Arm private for $32 billion six years ago, was widely reported last month saying he intends the Arm IPO to be the largest in semiconductor history. Reuters also noted that while Arm’s revenue increase “bodes well for the IPO, it may still not make SoftBank whole for the lost NVIDIA deal in the short term. This is because a rally in NVIDIA shares had led to Arm being worth more than $80 billion at one point under their cash-and-stock merger agreement.”