LONDON — Arm co-founder Hermann Hauser has said if would be a disaster if U.S. rival Nvidia buys the British company he helped to build.
Nvidia announced Sunday that it intends to buy the Cambridge-headquartered chip designer off Japan’s SoftBank for $40 billion, saying it would create the “world’s premier computing company.”
However, speaking to BBC Radio 4 on Monday, Hauser said: “I think it’s an absolute disaster for Cambridge, the U.K., and Europe.”
Arm is widely regarded as the jewel in the crown of the British tech industry. Its chips power most of the world’s smartphones, as well as many other devices.
Despite some opposition, the company was acquired by SoftBank in 2016 for £19 billion ($24 billion) on the condition that it remained in the British city of Cambridge.
Hauser said thousands of Arm employees would lose their jobs in Cambridge, Manchester, Belfast, and Warwick if Nvidia “inevitably” decided to move Arm’s headquarters to the U.S. and make the company a division of Nvidia.
Nvidia would “destroy” Arm’s business model, which involves licensing chip designs to around 500 other companies including several that compete directly with Nvidia, Hauser said, adding that the new deal will create a monopoly.
Nvidia was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC Monday. However, this weekend it said that Arm could remain headquartered in Cambridge under the deal. It added that it will create more jobs in the country and will build a new Nvidia-powered AI supercomputer.
Hauser said the commitments were meaningless unless they’re legally enforceable.
SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son said in a statement that “Nvidia is the perfect partner for Arm.”
While Simon Segars, Arm’s chief executive, said in a statement: “Arm and Nvidia share a vision and passion that ubiquitous, energy-efficient computing will help address the world’s most pressing issues from climate change to healthcare, from agriculture to education.”
He added: “By bringing together the technical strengths of our two companies we can accelerate our progress and create new solutions that will enable a global ecosystem of innovators.”
However, according to Hauser, the most important and concerning issue is one of economic sovereignty.
“If Arm becomes a U.S. company, it falls under the CFI (Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States) regulations,” he said. “If hundreds of U.K. companies that incorporate Arm’s (chips) in their products want to sell it or export it to anywhere in the world, including China, which is a major market, this decision on whether they’re allowed to export it will be made in the White House and not in Downing Street,” he said. “I think this is terrible.”
He urged the U.K. government to step in, block the deal, and help to take Arm public on the London Stock Exchange, which is what SoftBank initially planned to do.
Nvidia’s Arm takeover sparks concern in the UK, co-founder says it’s ‘a disaster’ – CNBC