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Qualcomm wants to buy ARM and it may need Samsung’s help

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Last updated: June 2nd, 2022 at 09:14 UTC+02:00

In 2020, rumors claimed that Samsung was one of the many companies interested in acquiring British chipmaker ARM. Samsung remains open to mergers and acquisitions in the chip industry as it seeks to consolidate its hold on the market. It was believed at that time that even if Samsung doesn’t buy ARM outright, it might acquire a significant shareholding in the company.

That didn’t happen and ultimately, NVIDIA announced in September 2020 that it would acquire ARM for $40 billion. The deal failed since the regulators felt it would be anti-competitive. Qualcomm has now expressed interest in buying ARM through a different method, one where it may require Samsung’s help.

Samsung could still end up with a piece of ARM

SoftBank, the company that currently owns ARM, is no longer actively looking to sell the company. It’s preparing to take ARM public so that it may divest its stake to realize a return on its investment. That doesn’t mean Qualcomm can’t still try to buy ARM if it really wants to.

Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon told the Financial Times that Qualcomm would be interested in forming a consortium of sorts to acquire ARM. “We’re an interested party in investing,” he said, adding that “It’s a very important asset and it’s an asset which is going to be essential to the development of our industry.”

Amon’s idea to get around the regulatory hurdles is to have many companies be a part of this consortium. “You’d need to have many companies participating so they have a net effect that ARM is independent.” He added that the potential purchase price would be high enough and that Qualcomm could create a deal with the other members that was big enough.

Amon isn’t the only top executive in the chip industry who’s thinking along these lines. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger has previously floated the same idea of putting together a consortium of ARM’s customers to acquire the company. And who was just in South Korea a few days ago meeting with Samsung Group boss Lee Jae-yong and top executives of its chip division? Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger.

This may just be a coincidence but if the biggest companies in the chip industry are considering this idea, Samsung is likely to be a part of the discussion. We’ve explained before how NVIDIA’s failure to buy ARM has given Samsung a huge opportunity.

Whether a deal of this magnitude could materialize remains to be seen. It’s within the realm of possibility. A consortium made up of ARM’s biggest customers would also ease any concerns the regulators may have, allowing the deal to go through.

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