SoftBank, the Japanese financial holding company that bought the British ARM Holdings in 2016, plans to sell or prepare a public offering of ARM shares.

ARM Holdings is the Cambridge-based company known primarily for its line of processors based on the ARM architecture although it also develops and sells system-on-a-chip, hardware, infrastructure, and software platforms ARM Holdings designs and licenses the ARM architecture used by Apple on chips such as the Ax series of iPhones and iPads. The ARM architecture chips are the ones that Apple intends to use for future Macs.

Bloomberg reports that Apple would not be interested in the acquisition of ARM Holdings; instead, Nvidia could be interested in the purchase. Apple does not want to make an offer for ARM’s licensing obligations but perhaps also for regulatory considerations that would complicate relations with many supplier companies and rivals at the same time.

Bloomberg talks about Nvidia’s approach to discussing a potential deal but reports that other bidders may emerge in the coming weeks. SoftBank is also evaluating the public listing on the stock exchange as an alternative to the sale.

The sale of ARM to Nvidia or other companies should not have any consequences for Apple or other licensees of ARM technologies: the acquisition would take place under the supervision of regulatory authorities and with specific requirements to be met under strict control. Additionally, companies that use ARM architecture would not welcome a deal that would prevent them from continuing to license ARM’s instruction set.

According to an indiscretion of a few days ago, ARM intends to unlink from two of its IoT activities to concentrate its efforts exclusively in the semiconductor intellectual property (IP) business, an element that has allowed the company to be practically omnipresent in the mobile sector.


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