The U.K. competition regulator said on Wednesday that it would investigate Nvidia’s $40 billion takeover of Arm, the largest-ever deal in the semiconductor industry, which would make Nvidia a strong competitor against Intel and AMD
The Competition and Markets Authority, or CMA, said that interested third parties had until Jan. 27 to comment on the impact that the acquisition would have on competition in the U.K., ahead of a formal investigation starting later this year.
Shares in Nvidia
were down more than 2.4% shortly after the opening of trading in New York.
Santa Clara, Calif.-based graphics chip giant Nvidia announced in September 2020 that it had reached a cash-and-stock deal to buy Arm, based in Cambridge, U.K., from the Japanese technology conglomerate SoftBank
The deal has drawn criticism in the U.K., with shareholders, politicians, and industry experts citing concerns over national security and losing critical homegrown technology and jobs to a foreign buyer.
Critics have also warned that Nvidia, which in July 2020 overtook Intel
as the world’s most valuable chip maker, would become too dominant if the Arm acquisition is approved.
Essential reading: Pressure grows for U.K. to intervene in Nvidia’s $40 billion Arm takeover
The CMA said that its investigation will likely consider whether, under Nvidia’s ownership, Arm would have an incentive to withdraw, raise prices, or reduce the quality of its intellectual licensing services to Nvidia’s rivals.
“The chip technology industry is worth billions and critical to many of the products that we use most in our everyday lives,” said CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli.
“We will work closely with other competition authorities around the world to carefully consider the impact of the deal and ensure that it doesn’t ultimately result in consumers facing more expensive or lower quality products,” Coscelli said.
Read this opinion: Nvidia’s deal with Arm paves the path to a trillion-dollar market value
The CMA’s mandate is strictly focused on competition, leaving the U.K. government responsible for any intervention based on national security or jobs grounds. The government said in September 2020 that it was assessing the deal, including commitments to retain British staff.
Nvidia has said that it would keep Arm’s headquarters in Cambridge and expand its research and development presence there, including building an artificial-intelligence and education center.
When SoftBank bought Arm in 2016, it made legally-binding assurances on the Cambridge headquarters and jobs enforceable by the U.K.’s Takeover Panel, which governs mergers and acquisitions in the country. It is unclear whether Nvidia would inherit these commitments. The agreements will also expire in September 2021, leaving Nvidia to decide the company’s future unless the British government intervenes.
Arm employs around 6,500 people globally, of which 3,000 are in the U.K., with 2,500 in Cambridge.
Alongside approval from the CMA, regulators from the U.S., China, and the European Union, as well as other countries, will need to clear Nvidia’s takeover.
MarketWatch has reached out to Nvidia for comment.