UK Government could affect NVIDIA’s proposed acquisition of Arm

NVIDIA announced plans to acquire Arm Limited for $40 billion last September. The transaction has been approved by the board of directors of NVIDIA, SoftBank, and Arm but will face an in-depth probe from the UK government. The UK government issued an official notice of a probe into the proposed acquisition.

Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for digital, culture, media, and sport issued a public intervention notice (PIIN) the states he is intervening in the sale on the grounds of national security. This intervention does not mean that the deal is dead, though it could potentially affect the proposed deal. It means that the UK’s competition authority will gather relevant information and create a report regarding the proposed transaction.

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Dowden states (via The Guardian):

Following careful consideration of the proposed takeover of ARM, I have today issued an intervention notice on national security grounds.

As a next step and to help me gather the relevant information, the UK’s independent competition authority will now prepare a report on the implications of the transaction, which will help inform any further decisions.

We want to support our thriving UK tech industry and welcome foreign investment, but it is appropriate that we properly consider the national security implications of a transaction like this.

The Competition and Markets Authority started gathering preliminary information about the proposed deal in January 2021.

The report has to be completed by July 30, 2021. Dowden will then submit the report and decide if the proposed transaction requires a more in-depth investigation.

This isn’t the first roadblock that NVIDIA has run into regarding its proposed acquisition of Arm. Microsoft, Google, and Qualcomm reportedly complained to US antitrust regulators regarding the deal back in February 2021.

NVIDIA’s CEO Jensen Huang seems confident that the deal will go through. Huang told the press (via VentureBeat):

I’m very confident that the regulators will see the wisdom of the transaction … The regulators will see the wisdom of it, and our discussions with them are as expected and constructive. I’m confident that we’ll still get the deal done in 2022, which is when we expected it in the first place, about 18 months.

As with most major transactions of this size, we’ll have to wait until regulatory bodies weigh in and make decisions before anything is final.

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