SoftBank considering sale or IPO of chip design company Arm Holdings

Posted:
in General Discussion
Amid the early stages of Apple's transition to ARM-based silicon, SoftBank is reportedly mulling a sale or public offering of Arm Holdings.

Credit: Arm Holdings
Credit: Arm Holdings


Arm Holdings is the company that designs and licenses the base ARM architecture used in Apple chips like the A12Z Bionic. It is also wholly owned by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, but that may not be the case forever.

According to a new report in The Wall Street Journal, SoftBank is looking at alternatives like a full or partial sale or an initial public offering (IPO) of the chip design company.

The Japanese company, with Goldman Sachs acting as an advisor, is still in the early stages of the exploration. It isn't clear how the plans will pan out, and it's possible that SoftBank will choose to do nothing.

Apple licenses chip architecture technology from Arm Holdings for its proprietary A-series chips, which power iPhones and iPads. Since WWDC 2020, it's also clear that Apple plans to transition its Mac lineup to first-party, ARM-based chips within the next few years.

Well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts that the first Mac with an A-series chip could be a 13-inch MacBook Pro in late 2020, followed by a MacBook Air in late 2020 or early 2021.

The sale or IPO of Arm Holdings isn't likely to significant impact Apple, though the company could be interested in acquiring the chip design firm. Speculation that Apple could buy Arm Holdings has been circulating for at least a decade.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    harrykatsarosharrykatsaros Posts: 84unconfirmed, member
    Is there any competitive benefit in Apple buying back control of ARM architecture after relinquishing its share some 25 years ago?
    edited July 2020 Scot1watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 27
    BeatsBeats Posts: 3,073member
    Is there any competitive benefit in Apple buying back control of ARM architecture after relinquishing its share some 25 years ago?

    I believe they can make more money from the knockoffs that rip off everything Apple invented.
    FileMakerFellerlkruppwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 27
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,110member
    I read something not that long ago about ARM being primarily Chinese-owned after some behind-the-scene dealings.  Is that not the case?  Does a potential sale to someone else besides Apple possibly put at risk the work that Apple has done with their ARM chips?

    For example, if Google were to buy ARM, they could immediately shut down all future licensing, including any to Apple right?
    dysamoriarundhvidcornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 27
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 2,395member
    Is there a cash kickback for mentioning well connected analysts in a good light?
    that names seems to be inserted in to every story these days. 
    leavingthebiggwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 27
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,789member
    SoftBank only just bought ARM a few years ago. Seems weird to sell them off a few years later.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 27
    ua2006ua2006 Posts: 84member
    It would be hilarious if Intel bought ARM. 
    Japheyjd_in_sbcornchiprundhvidwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 27
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    sflocal said:
    I read something not that long ago about ARM being primarily Chinese-owned after some behind-the-scene dealings.  Is that not the case?  Does a potential sale to someone else besides Apple possibly put at risk the work that Apple has done with their ARM chips?

    For example, if Google were to buy ARM, they could immediately shut down all future licensing, including any to Apple right?
    Apple only licenses the instruction set. I would imagine that the license for that runs pretty much forever. If Google bought ARM and stopped licensing the chip designs it wouldn’t matter: Apple doesn’t use the ARM reference designs anyway. 


    jony0chiaronncornchiplolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 27
    ciacia Posts: 262member
    I don't know if Apple could buy ARM out from Softbank without triggering all sorts of monopoly alarm bells.  They would control the company that licenses the chip design that essentially every mobile phone manufacturer uses.  Would be a massive red flag.  I don't think Google could buy it either for the same reason.  
    edited July 2020 xyzzy01lolliverrundhvidwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 27
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,390member
    sflocal said:
    I read something not that long ago about ARM being primarily Chinese-owned after some behind-the-scene dealings.  Is that not the case?  Does a potential sale to someone else besides Apple possibly put at risk the work that Apple has done with their ARM chips?

    For example, if Google were to buy ARM, they could immediately shut down all future licensing, including any to Apple right?
    Google is not Apple's enemy, and there would be no financial benefit to Google spending billions to buy ARM Holdings and then refuse to license anyway. Whoever buys ARM would do so to recoup most if not all the expenses via licensing fees.
    ronnmuthuk_vanalingamcornchip
  • Reply 10 of 27
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,110member
    gatorguy said:
    sflocal said:
    I read something not that long ago about ARM being primarily Chinese-owned after some behind-the-scene dealings.  Is that not the case?  Does a potential sale to someone else besides Apple possibly put at risk the work that Apple has done with their ARM chips?

    For example, if Google were to buy ARM, they could immediately shut down all future licensing, including any to Apple right?
    Google is not Apple's enemy, and there would be no financial benefit to Google spending billions to buy ARM Holdings and then refuse to license anyway. Whoever buys ARM would do so to recoup most if not all the expenses via licensing fees.
    I used Google as an example.  I can see the Chinese government (example only) of buying ARM.  Does Apple licensing the ARM instruction set the same as a "reference design", or does Apple have some kind of perpetual license to license ARM instructions in addition to its own code?
    edited July 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 27
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 2,395member
    gatorguy said:
    sflocal said:
    I read something not that long ago about ARM being primarily Chinese-owned after some behind-the-scene dealings.  Is that not the case?  Does a potential sale to someone else besides Apple possibly put at risk the work that Apple has done with their ARM chips?

    For example, if Google were to buy ARM, they could immediately shut down all future licensing, including any to Apple right?
    Google is not Apple's enemy, and there would be no financial benefit to Google spending billions to buy ARM Holdings and then refuse to license anyway. Whoever buys ARM would do so to recoup most if not all the expenses via licensing fees.
    Remember that Apple already owns the LLVM compiler project that Google has put efforts into that and would be shooting themselves in the foot.

    Which makes we wonder if it would be worth buying as a joint venture and gifting it to the LLVM project to drive. As an independent entity.
    Rebrand as Swift-isa.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 27
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,681member
    cia said:
    I don't know if Apple could buy ARM out from Softbank without triggering all sorts of monopoly alarm bells.  They would control the company that licenses the chip design that essentially every mobile phone manufacturer uses.  Would be a massive red flag.  I don't think Google could buy it either for the same reason.  

    I doubt it. Apple already has a monopoly over A-series SoCs, arguably the best in mobile, and no one complains about that. /s

    cornchipBeatspscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 27
    chiachia Posts: 714member
    ua2006 said:
    It would be hilarious if Intel bought ARM. 

    Intel sells XScale business to Marvell for $600m
    https://www.theregister.com/2006/06/27/intel_sells_xscale/
    The ARM-based XScale line-up grew out of the StrongARM team Intel acquired in 1998 from DEC.

    Once burned, twice shy...
  • Reply 14 of 27
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,390member
    Microsoft having an interest in ARM Holdings, assuming it goes up for sale, actually makes some sense. They have a long history of successful licensing and today's related story of the PC side having to make the pivot to ARM at some point is what might have led to this "story" about a potential sale with MS perhaps in mind.  Testing the water so to speak.
    FileMakerFellerronndysamorialkruppviclauyyc
  • Reply 15 of 27
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,926member
    elijahg said:
    SoftBank only just bought ARM a few years ago. Seems weird to sell them off a few years later.
    Well, they may need to cover their WeWork losses.
    ronnxyzzy01tokyojimuviclauyyccornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 27
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 3,435member
    A sale of ARM will attract a lot of regulatory scrutiny. There is basically no way ARM will be sold to Apple, Google, Intel, Microsoft, or countless others with clear incentives to squash competition. 

    Maybe a consortium of many of those companies might jointly buy it and turn it into a nonprofit standards setting thing. 

    But I would think IPO would make the most sense.
    dysamoriaxyzzy01viclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 27
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    gatorguy said:
    sflocal said:
    I read something not that long ago about ARM being primarily Chinese-owned after some behind-the-scene dealings.  Is that not the case?  Does a potential sale to someone else besides Apple possibly put at risk the work that Apple has done with their ARM chips?

    For example, if Google were to buy ARM, they could immediately shut down all future licensing, including any to Apple right?
    Google is not Apple's enemy, and there would be no financial benefit to Google spending billions to buy ARM Holdings and then refuse to license anyway. Whoever buys ARM would do so to recoup most if not all the expenses via licensing fees.
    Calm your trousers. Google was just being used as an example. And to be honest, I’d rather Google bought the company over  some patent-trolling entity. 
    edited July 2020 mwhitechiadysamoriaBeatslolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 27
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    elijahg said:
    SoftBank only just bought ARM a few years ago. Seems weird to sell them off a few years later.
    Must be costing them an ARM and a leg.
    JapheycornchipBeatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 27
    ajmasajmas Posts: 601member
    Apple buying ARM would likely be toxic. The notion being that Apple fully controlling ARM would likely drive many ARM customers away. 

    I am not sure Apple buying ARM would be beneficial to anyone. ARM does a good job of doing research and everyone else creates the implementation that suits their needs. 

    On the other hand if the shareholders were a healthy mix of companies that use ARM, then that may be of more interest?
    edited July 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 27
    BeatsBeats Posts: 3,073member
    cia said:
    I don't know if Apple could buy ARM out from Softbank without triggering all sorts of monopoly alarm bells.  They would control the company that licenses the chip design that essentially every mobile phone manufacturer uses.  Would be a massive red flag.  I don't think Google could buy it either for the same reason.  

    Every mobile phone copies Apple's iPhone design. So what?

    gatorguy said:
    sflocal said:
    I read something not that long ago about ARM being primarily Chinese-owned after some behind-the-scene dealings.  Is that not the case?  Does a potential sale to someone else besides Apple possibly put at risk the work that Apple has done with their ARM chips?

    For example, if Google were to buy ARM, they could immediately shut down all future licensing, including any to Apple right?
    Google is not Apple's enemy, and there would be no financial benefit to Google spending billions to buy ARM Holdings and then refuse to license anyway. Whoever buys ARM would do so to recoup most if not all the expenses via licensing fees.

    Tell Google to axe their knockoff OS that they stole from Apple, causing Apple to lose billions if not a trillion in revenue. "Not their enemy".
    cornchipwatto_cobra
Sign In or Register to comment.