The UK government said today that it was intervening in the proposed sale of ARM to chipmaker NVIDIA on national security grounds.
“Under the powers set out in the Enterprise Act 2002, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is able to intervene on national security grounds,” the UK agency announced. “[Today,] the Secretary of State issued a public interest intervention notice (PIIN), confirming that he is intervening in the sale on national security grounds. In reaching this decision, he considered advice received from officials across the investment security community.”
NVIDIA announced last September that it would purchase ARM for $40 billion and pledged that it would continue licensing its critical mobile chipsets to licensees. The acquisition has since been contested by multiple parties for competitive reasons. But the UK action is interesting in that it specifically mentions national security concerns.
The intervention could postpone the sale by at least several months. For now, the government is waiting on a report about the implications of the transaction from its competition authority, which is due by the end of July. At that point, the government will make further decisions with regard to the sale.
ARM was founded in Cambridge, England, and still maintains its headquarters there. So the sale of such a strategic company to a U.S.-based firm is understandably concerning, though I’m unclear on the national security bit.