Part of British chipmaker Arm to be sold to Saudi-backed Softbank Vision Fund

 
Lynsey Barber
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Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son wants to be the Warren Buffett of tech (Source: Getty)

Softbank is reportedly selling part of newly acquired British chipmaker Arm to its Saudi-backed investment fund.

After snapping up the firm for £24bn in a shock mega-deal just weeks after the vote to leave the European Union last June, the Japanese conglomerate is now selling a 25 per cent stake to its Vision Fund, the Financial Times reports, worth around $8bn.

The huge $100bn Vision Fund, based out of London, is backed by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund as well as top names in tech - Apple, Foxconn, Qualcomm and Oracle's Larry Ellison - but is yet to close.

Arm, Number 10 and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have been contacted for comment. Softbank declined to comment.

Read more: UK tech investors are incredibly happy about Softbank's $100bn fund

According to the report, Downing Street has been alerted to the proposed plans but the newspaper understands that no concerns have been raised.

Softbank promised to create nearly 2,000 jobs at the Cambridge firm, doubling headcount over the next five years as part of the terms of the deal, assuaging concerns over one of Britain's crown jewels in business going to a foreign buyer. It also promised to keep Arm's global headquarters in the UK.

Softbank chief executive Masayoshi Son has ambitious plans to become the Warren Buffett of technology, and speaking at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week said he expects Arm to produce one trillion Internet of Things (IoT) chips by 2020 and account for 80 per cent of the market.

Read more: The inside story: How SoftBank persuaded Theresa May to ok its Arm takeover

Another deal reportedly being eyed by the Vision Fund is a $1bn investment in the co-working space startup WeWork.

Neither of the deals, which would both be a first for the fund, have been officially announced.

Moving part of Softbank's stake in Arm under the Vision Fund umbrella is part of an effort to secure investment in the fund from Abu-Dhabi's government-backed Mubadala. According to sources cited by the newspaper it wants to own a portion of Arm.

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