SoftBank said to buy ARM Holdings for $32.4 billion


Hong Kong: SoftBank Group Corp. agreed to buy ARM Holdings Plc for $32.4 billion in cash, a deal that would be the Japanese company’s biggest ever acquisition, the Financial Times reported.

The offer is worth £17 a share for the Cambridge, England-based designer of smartphone chips and an announcement may come as soon as Monday, the newspaper reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. That price would be 43% above Friday’s close of 1,189 pence.

Representatives for SoftBank and ARM in Tokyo didn’t respond to emails and phone calls for comment on a public holiday in Japan.

SoftBank under chairman Masayoshi Son has become one of Japan’s most acquisitive companies, with stakes in US wireless carrier Sprint Corp. and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. ARM focuses on chip design and generates royalties when companies adopt its architecture. That can include parts of the chip that perform specific functions, such as communications, or the whole semiconductor itself.

Any deal for ARM would come less than a month after Nikesh Arora, Son’s heir apparent at SoftBank, quit the company.

ARM has come to dominate the design of smartphone chips and is pushing into servers to challenge Intel Corp, evolving from a small lab in a converted barn to a company whose designs are found in 95% of smartphones. With the mobile phone market slowing, ARM is adding new customers in the automotive industry and targeting growth in processors for network equipment makers and servers.