SoftBank tycoon Masayoshi Son is reportedly planning to meet with Samsung Electronics executives in Seoul to discuss a partnership between Japanese mega-conglomerate subsidiary Arm and South Korean foundry giant.
According to Bloomberg, Son, on his first visit to Korea in three years, intends to discuss a “strategic alliance” between Arm and Samsung.
The details of what such an alliance might entail remain a subject of speculation. A potential talking point is a possible sale – in whole or in part – of the British chip designer to uber-chaebol. This follows rumors that Qualcomm was mulling over buying a stake in Arm.
We have a slight feeling that SoftBank wants to shoot Arm.
While SoftBank had signaled its intention to take Arm publicly after a $ 66 billion attempt to sell CPU design house to American Nvidia not only was it faced with insurmountable rejection by regulators, but also to the backlash of some corners of the semiconductor industry, particularly those that have licensed processor Arm projects, who feared what Nvidia would do to the ecosystem.
If Arm goes back on the stock exchange, it could be valued up to $ 60 billion. However, SoftBank suspended plans for a London IPO in July, citing political turmoil in the UK in the wake of the resignation of then Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Johnson had reportedly ordered the assembly of an incentive package to secure a local roster. It was also suggested at the time that SoftBank’s son was seeking a listing on the New York Stock Exchange instead, a preference he made clear at a shareholders’ meeting in June. As of this month, the UK government was still pushing for a double listing.
News of Son’s visit to the South Korean capital comes as SoftBank’s Vision fund faces the biggest losses in its history. The Japanese conglomerate posted a staggering loss of 3.16 trillion yen ($ 22 billion) in the previous three months in August.
And for its part, Samsung is not only among the largest consumer electronics manufacturers in the world, it designs many of its own chips under the Exynos line and is the second largest foundry operator behind Taiwan’s TSMC. A purchase of Arm, however unlikely, would secure Samsung a huge library of intellectual property with which to manufacture chips and license designs. Samsung is an Arm licensee.
The full stack approach would mirror Intel, which is rapidly expanding its fabulous infrastructure to support contact manufacturing as part of its IDM 2.0 strategy. As part of its new Intel Foundry Service (IFS) business unit, the chip maker plans to produce components based on a combination of in-house developed and licensed designs, designs using Arm or RISC-V technology and custom IP of the customers.
That said, it’s hard to see how SoftBank would avoid the same regulatory pitfalls that ultimately doomed Nvidia’s takeover attempt.
The register contacted Samsung and SoftBank for an answer; we will let you know if we hear anything in response. Arm declined to comment. ®