Qualcomm wants to grab a piece of Arm

(Image credit: Arm)

SoftBank has a bit of a conundrum on its hands, after failing to sell British chipmaker Arm to Nvidia for around $40 billion earlier this year.

The Japanese company has since pivoted to running an initial public offering (IPO) for Arm, probably based in New York rather than London, to realise the gains from its incredibly valuable asset. 

But it doesn't seem like the process will be so simple following new revelations from Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon. 

Qualcomm Arm

Speaking to the Financial Times, Amon said that Qualcomm would be interested in forming a consortium of some kind to acquire Arm. 

"We’re an interested party in investing," he said. "It’s a very important asset and it’s an asset which is going to be essential to the development of our industry." 

"You’d need to have many companies participating so they have a net effect that Arm is independent." 

The purchase price would be high, but Amon said Qualcomm and others could create a deal that was "big enough". 

Exactly how this deal would work – and even if it would work – remains to be seen and it's not clear if Qualcomm has actually put much planning behind the proposal. 

After the failed Nvidia bid, Arm's future is very much up in the air, with the most well-known factor being that SoftBank, which has seen the value of its investments decline sharply, wants to cash out. 

An outlandish deal? 

While you could read these comments as dream-casting by Qualcomm's CEO, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger has previously floated a similar idea whereby Arm's customers band together to acquire the company. 

Qualcomm had previously opposed Nvidia's purchase of Arm, citing the work it took from many partners to build. 

"Arm has won everywhere because of the collective investment of the entire ecosystem, from companies like Apple and Qualcomm and many others, and that’s because it was an independent, open architecture that everybody could invest in," Amon said. 

What, exactly, the future holds for Arm remains to be seen. SoftBank is currently tussling with its rogue Chinese arm to wrest back control, after a failed ouster of its CEO, who has refused to leave

Once that matter is concluded, however, SoftBank plans to offload all but a controlling stake in Arm fairly swift, realising huge profits on the way. 

Max Slater-Robins has been writing about technology for nearly a decade at various outlets, covering the rise of the technology giants, trends in enterprise and SaaS companies, and much more besides. Originally from Suffolk, he currently lives in London and likes a good night out and walks in the countryside.