Chancellor rolls out the red carpet for Arm to return to London amid growing doubts over chip maker’s £30bn takeover
Rishi Sunak last night rolled out the red carpet for Arm to return to the London stock market amid growing doubts about the British chip maker’s £30billion takeover.
The Chancellor said he wanted to make the City ‘an incredibly attractive place’ for companies to list ‘whether it is Arm or anyone else’.
His comments came as owner Softbank tries to sell Arm for £30billion to US giant Nvidia. However, the deal has become bogged down by regulatory probes, prompting calls for Softbank to consider a UK listing if the takeover falls through.
Charm offensive: Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured) said he wanted to make the City ‘an incredibly attractive place’ for companies to list ‘whether it is Arm or anyone else’
City grandee Ken Costa, the former UBS and Lazard banker, said a London float was a ‘credible alternative’ worth considering.
‘This Cambridge-based company should not be allowed to fall into the hands of a single competitor, whether Nvidia or anyone else,’ he wrote in the Financial Times.Asked about this suggestion, Sunak declined to discuss the Nvidia deal in detail but said the Government was moving heaven and earth to tempt more technology companies to list in the UK.
Sunak hails private equity ‘investment’
The Chancellor has welcomed the controversial wave of private equity takeovers sweeping Britain.
Businesses from Morrisons to Ultra Electronics and John Laing have been besieged by foreign firms, prompting calls for the Government to step in.
Rishi Sunak said: ‘I think we’ve always been an economy that benefits from investment and I would view it as a sign of confidence in the UK economy. If international investors, whoever they are, are keen to invest their capital in the UK, that is good news for our economy.
‘This is a very attractive place globally to invest right now and that’s what we need because we want to help drive the recovery and create jobs.’ His comments come despite concerns about the huge debts involved in many private equity takeovers, as well as their ruthless tactics to slash jobs and create profits.
Sunak said: ‘In general, I want to make this a really attractive place for companies to list.
‘That is why I engaged Jonathan Hill to do a review of listing rules.
‘There’s a suite of things we are doing on the listing side and, whether it is Arm or anyone else, I want to make sure this is an incredibly attractive place for companies to raise capital.’
Arm was Britain’s biggest listed technology company before it was bought by Softbank for £24billion in 2016.
If the firm returned with a value of £30billion, it would rank alongside Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group and Vodafone among the country’s biggest public companies.
Nvidia launched its bid for Arm last September but has since admitted that the process is taking longer than expected.
In the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority is calling for an in-depth probe, while the EU is gearing up to investigate the deal and regulators in China are yet to even formally start looking at it.
Nvidia has said it will walk away if the deal isn’t sealed by September 2022.
Concerns about the bid are based on Arm’s position as a neutral supplier of chip designs to customers around the world.
This approach led Arm to be dubbed the ‘Switzerland of semiconductors’, with its designs to be used in a plethora of devices around the world.
But critics fear this neutrality will be put at risk by Nvidia’s takeover – a suggestion the US firm strongly denies.