Disappointment for the UK government, after the head of Japan’s Softbank reiterated that the United States is the likely destination for any public listing of ARM Holdings.

SoftBank’s founder and Chief Executive Masayoshi Son on Friday reiterated the Japanese conglomerate would most likely list British-based chip designer unit on Nasdaq. However he stressed that no actual decision has been made, Reuters reported.

“Most of ARM’s clients are based in Silicon Valley and … stock markets in the US would love to have ARM,” Son told shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting.

US listing

The UK government is known to be keen for a London listing of Cambridge-based ARM, or even a dual listing in London and New York.

The UK government of course wants its biggest and best tech companies to list on home soil, but there is little doubt that a US listing is more attractive, as firms tend to achieve higher valuations on the Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange compared to other exchanges.

Softbank’s Son admitted there were also requests to list ARM in London without elaborating on where they came from, Reuters reported.

The entrepreneur did not say whether the conglomerate is considering a secondary listing for ARM in London.

His comments should come as no surprise however.

In February this year, he indicated that Nasdaq was the most likely listing destination for ARM following the collapse of the Nvidia sale.

ARM was formed in 1990 when it was spun out of Acorn Computers, and its chip designs are used in 95 percent of smartphones in use today because of their low power consumption.

Rather than manufacture processors, it licenses designs to other companies like Qualcomm and MediaTek.

Nvidia attempt

Japan’s Softbank had acquired ARM for $32bn in 2016.

Before that, ARM was actually dual-listed in London and New York until 2016, when SoftBank acquired it – an acquisition the UK government at the time welcomed, despite concern at ARM falling into the hands of a foreign entity.

The listing comes after the $40bn sale of ARM Holdings to GPU powerhouse Nvidia was called off in February this year, due to “significant regulatory challenges”.

The deal collapsed after multiple antitrust investigations around the world, but the most pressing was the UK government, which had ordered a full Phase two investigation of the deal, amid strong signs the government would block the deal on national security grounds.

The cancellation was viewed with relief by many within the tech industry.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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