The UK begins an exhaustive probe of the Nvidia-Arm acquisition

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On Tuesday, Britain ordered an in-depth investigation of the planned $50+ billion acquisition of Arm by Nvidia. Arm is a UK-based chip designer that will have to go through this hurdle, following the proposed deal that has seen pressure to turn the regulatory screws by other concerned market titans.

Arm is Britain’s most important tech company that was sold to Japan’s SoftBank in 2016. It licenses its blueprints to chipmakers like Samsung, Qualcomm, and Apple, underpinning the global smartphone ecosystem.

Britain said it would join the lengthy investigations led by the United States, China, and the European Union.

Competition could be impacted

The investigations seek to determine the impact the sale of Arm to Nvidia may have on the competition and national security. Britain’s digital secretary, Nadine Dorries, said that Arm has a unique place in the global technology supply chain, necessitating that the implication of the transaction undergo scrutiny.

Nvidia is the world’s biggest maker of graphics and AI chips. It agreed to buy Arm from SoftBank in September 2020 for cash and shares worth up to $40 billion at the time.

Arm’s customers were not happy about this, as many compete with Nvidia.  

Mired in investigations

Nvidia responded by pledging to maintain the neutrality that has been central to Arm’s deals with other chipmakers and concerned parties. To date, more than 200-billion Arm chips have been shipped, and its technology powers almost every smartphone.

The highly efficient chip designs created by the company have also seen them find their way to data centers.

Britain said that even though not all devices using Arm-based chips are classed as critical, the security and reliance of a broader supply chain is important for the UK’s national security.