Japanese telecommunications giant SoftBank is buying UK-based chip designer ARM, which would give SoftBank control over the company that designs the technology used in the processors that power almost every major smartphone, many tablets and a range of other devices including servers, set-top-boxes, and even some Chromebooks.

ARM-based chips are also expected to play a key role in emerging automotive technology, smart home devices, and other Internet-of-Things products.

The two companies have reached an agreement which would involve SoftBank paying $32 billion for ARM.

softbank arm_04

SoftBank is based in Japan, but the company also has international reach: among other things, it owns US wireless carrier Sprint.

ARM doesn’t actually manufactur chips. But it designs chip architecture which is then licensed by companies including Qualcomm, Samsung, MediaTek, NVIDIA, Rockchip, Allwinner, and others.

Under the agreement, ARM would continue to operate as an independent company… but it would get a lot bigger. ARM’s headquarters would remain in Cambridge and existing senior management would remain in place. But SoftBank wants to “at least double” the number of people working in the UK office and “increase the headcount” of ARM employees outside the UK over the next five years.

via Bloomberg and SoftBank (PDF)


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