SoftBank boss dampens Arm London hopes


Japanese owner of Arm says New York remains the favourite destination for a float despite a charm offensive from London

Masayoshi Son: US ‘favourite’

The Japanese owner of Arm said New York remains the favourite destination for a float despite a charm offensive from London. 

SoftBank chief executive Masayoshi Son told shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting: ‘Nasdaq is the favourite.’ 

The 64-year-old billionaire added: ‘Most of Arm’s clients are based in Silicon Valley and stock markets in the US would love to have Arm.’ 

The comments were a blow to the City amid attempts to convince SoftBank that the chip designer should float here. Son confirmed ‘a strong love call’ from London and said he was being advised by bankers on where regulations would be most favourable. 

He confirmed no decision had yet been made. Leading politicians and businessmen said lobbying would continue. 

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘We shouldn’t give up, everything is still in play. It is vital we fight for this country’s high-end technology companies.’ 

Investment minister Lord Gerry Grimstone flew to Tokyo this month to meet SoftBank executives, including Son. 

A source close to the situation said: ‘Ministers would like nothing more than a listing, whether it be primary or secondary, for Arm in London. 

‘We will continue to make the case to the company.’ But a US listing would be a bitter blow to the City. 

Innovative tech firms are at the heart of the Government’s hopes to build prosperity post-Covid and post-Brexit. They are also key to ‘levelling up’, as they can generate high quality jobs in economic blackspots. 

Son himself is under pressure from SoftBank investors to raise money from a listing of Arm after it posted a £12.6billion loss in the quarter ending in March following a downturn in the technology sector. 

It purchased Arm in 2016 for £24billion. A £31bn sale to chip giant Nvidia fell through this year and Son is targeting a £41bn float. 

Arm was founded in 1990 and is based in Cambridge. It designs the processors that run virtually every smartphone on the planet and its customers include Apple, Qualcomm and Samsung Electronics.

It employs 6,400 people globally, 3,500 of them in the UK.

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