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Fresh Headache For Nvidia ARM Buyout As UK Govt Wades In

Chipmaking giant Nvidia has hit a major and unexpected hurdle in its bid for ARM, with the UK government intervening on national security grounds.

The $40 billion buyout, which would see Nvidia take over the UK mobile processor firm from current owner SoftBank, has come under increased regulatory scrutiny since its announcement in September.

Oliver Dowden. (Official portrait by Richard Townshend, licenced under CC BY 3.0)

Now, UK Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden has issued a Public Interest Intervention Notice to examine the implications of the takeover for the UK’s national security.

“We want to support our thriving UK tech industry and welcome foreign investment, but it is appropriate that we properly consider the national security implications of a transaction like this,” he said.

Dowden has instructed the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to start a “Phase One” investigation, which will see it deliver a report on jurisdictional, competition, and potential national security issues arising from the deal. The report is to be completed by 30 July, after which Dowden will clear the deal, impose agreed undertakings, or refer it to a further “Phase Two” investigation.

“As a next step and to help me gather the relevant information, the UK’s independent competition authority will now prepare a report on the implications of the transaction, which will help inform any further decisions,” said Dowden.

In a statement, a Nvidia spokesperson said the company does not believe the acquisition would pose any material national security issues.

“We will continue to work closely with the British authorities, as we have done since the announcement of this deal,” the spokesperson said.

ARM is responsible for the architecture used in most mobile phone chips including Qualcomm.

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