Japan's SoftBank is acquiring ARM Holdings for $31 billion (£24 billion). The British chip design firm dominates the smartphone market, with its lineup of chips used in 95% of handsets today.
SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said that ARM would function as an independent business, with an intention to double its headcount in the UK over the next five years:
We have long admired ARM as a world renowned and highly respected technology company that is by some distance the market-leader in its field. ARM will be an excellent strategic fit within the SoftBank group as we invest to capture the very significant opportunities provided by the "Internet of Things".
This investment also marks our strong commitment to the UK and the competitive advantage provided by the deep pool of science and technology talent in Cambridge. As an integral part of the transaction, we intend to at least double the number of employees employed by ARM in the UK over the next five years.
SoftBank intends to invest in ARM, support its management team, accelerate its strategy and allow it to fully realise its potential beyond what is possible as a publicly listed company. It is also intended that ARM will remain an independent business within SoftBank, and continue to be headquartered in Cambridge, UK.
This is one of the most important acquisitions we have ever made, and I expect ARM to be a key pillar of SoftBank's growth strategy going forward.
Unlike traditional semiconductor firms like Intel, ARM does not fabricate its own processors. It licenses the IP for its designs to manufacturers like Qualcomm, Samsung, Huawei, NVIDIA, Apple, and others. Companies can license its Cortex processors, or its chip architecture and design their own CPU, much like what Samsung did with the Exynos M1 CPU on the Exynos 8890 SoC that powers the Galaxy S7. The number of devices running ARM-designed hardware has crossed 60 billion last year.
SoftBank is a major investor in the tech space, having acquired stake in U.S. carrier Sprint, China's e-commerce giant Alibaba, India's e-commerce vendor Snapdeal and local ride aggregator Ola Cabs among others in recent years.