Arm Holdings would gain much-needed visibility under a plan being floated by Softbank to re-list the processor IP firm on the stock market.
A potential relisting of Arm by SoftBank, as highlighted last week in the UK’s Financial Times newspaper, could be a boon for the company, says one former senior electronics industry executive from Imagination Technologies.
Yoshimitsu Goto, a senior corporate officer at SoftBank, is said to have suggested to investors that an initial public offering could be a potential exit strategy for an investment fund that SoftBank launched last year. The report adds that the $93 billion Vision Fund, backed by Saudi Arabia’s main sovereign wealth fund and companies including Apple and Qualcomm, is set to acquire a 25 percent stake in Arm.
Goto, speaking at an investment conference in Hong Kong, emphasized that while a relisting would be a possibility, Softbank does not have any immediate plans to do so. In any case, SoftBank has been considering ways of optimizing its investment in Arm, which it acquired for $32 billion in 2016, and take some cash out.
Arm spokespeople said Simon Segars, CEO of Arm, was unable to comment.
However, Tony King-Smith, who was a senior executive at Imagination Technologies for 10 years before leaving in 2016, and also helped launch Inmos’ transputer back in the 1980s, speaking to EE Times, said that a relisting could be beneficial to arm in terms of its broader market visibility.
“Being acquired by SoftBank gave Arm the financial muscle it needed to take on Intel. And the deal is delivering — the company made five acquisitions and increased staff numbers by 25 percent,” said Smith, who is now CEO of the Elec Tech Council in the UK, representing the interests of the electronics and embedded software industries.
“However, the removal of companies like Arm and Imagination Technologies from being listed on the stock exchange means that nobody outside the engineering world cares anymore,” Smith said.
He suggested that not being listed means not being part of the business and financial pages of the mainstream press, which in turn makes it difficult then to bring their story out wider, which is critical in its PR battle with major players like Intel. “This is important as visibility outside the engineering world is vital to push the agenda of our industry,” Smith said.
Smith makes a key point as we listen to ongoing debates about the impact of technology in the modern world, especially when the technology itself becomes commoditized yet it needs continual investment.
This is probably the reason that Segars took the stage earlier this month at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas, an event for interactive, film and music industries, to bring the tech impact story to a broader audience. He was part of a session entitled “rebooting tech for a human-centered world,” where he was on stage with cyber-psychologist Mary Aiken, who calls its impact on human behavior the “largest unregulated social experiment of all time.”
— Nitin Dahad is a European correspondent for EE Times.