Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is launching an investigation into Nvidia’s acquisition of Arm Holdings.
Arm Holdings is the UK’s most successful tech firm, and is at the center of the semiconductor industry. The company’s chip designs are used in iPhones, iPads, Macs, Android phones, servers and more. The company is, along with AMD, responsible for Intel’s fall as the world’s dominant chipmaker.
Nvidia and Arm made headlines in September when it was announced Nvidia would acquire Arm for $40 billion. The announcement was greeted with skepticism and denunciation from many corners of Britain, as well as the the industry, with Arm’s co-founder calling the deal an “absolute disaster.” In addition to the 3,000 UK jobs at stake, many are worried about the possibility of Arm’s neutrality being corrupted.
Arm doesn’t manufacturer any of its own chips, unlike Intel and AMD. Instead, it licenses its designs to companies throughout the tech industry, who then manufacture chips based on those designs. As such, Arm is the chipmaking equivalent of Switzerland, working with everyone and excluding no one. Many industry experts are concerned that may change under Nvidia, a company that has a vested interest in preventing competitors from using Arm’s designs to gain any advantage over it.
In addition, with the ongoing nationalization of technology — as evidenced by the US cutting off China-based Huawei from its chip suppliers — there is concern within the UK of their premier tech company being under the control of a US-based company.
These concerns have now culminated in the CMA launching an investigation, according to The Guardian. As part of their investigation, the CMA is calling “for interested parties to submit views on the contentious deal before the launch of a formal investigation later this year.”
It remains to be seen how the CMA will rule. However, given the stakes for the British tech industry, as well as the tech industry at large, it seems likely the CMA may seek to block the deal.