British chipmaker Arm is facing uncertainty over its future headcount as Nvidia resists a guarantee on jobs following its planned $40bn (£29bn) takeover.
California-based Nvidia is in talks with the government over potential commitments linked to the mammoth merger, including maintaining Arm’s headquarters in Cambridge.
The company has pledged to keep the chip giant in the UK and increase its investment in Britain. However, it is yet to sign up to any targets on Arm’s headcount.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Nvidia chief executive Jensen Huang said his firm was wary of being bound by any target.
“The type of talent we would like to bring to the UK and invest in the UK, are not that readily available. They’re not a dime a dozen,” he said. “I will hire as many Einsteins as there are.”
A Nvidia spokesperson said the company was in “constructive discussions” with the government.
“We share the government’s interest in ensuring that Arm thrives in the UK,” they said. “We plan to hire as many world-class researchers and computer scientists as we can, right in the UK.”
Current owner Softbank entered into a legally-binding commitment to double Arm’s headcount within five years following its takeover in 2016. It is now racing to meet this target, which expires in September this year.
A filing published in October shows Arm has 3,004 employees in the UK — a figure that must rise to 3,494 by September.
But Nvidia’s reluctance to commit to further job guarantees will fuel concerns about the impact of the deal on Britain’s tech landscape.
Former business secretary Lord Peter Mandelson last year branded the deal “short-sighted”, accusing ministers of “waving the Union Jack while selling off the crown jewels”.
The government has said it is willing to set conditions on the transaction if it is deemed to pose a threat to national security.
Nvidia is also facing a probe by competition regulators in the US and UK, while Google and Microsoft have both lodged complaints about the impact of the merger on the chip market.
The US company has defended its plans for Arm, pledging to maintain the British chipmaker’s neutral licensing model.