EU competition watchdogs have temporarily hit pause on their investigation into Nvidia’s planned takeover of British chip designer Arm, introducing another obstacle in the way of the $54bn deal.
The European Commission halted its probe into the takeover on its previous deadline on November 25, as it awaits more information, Reuters first reported from a filing.
Delays have been a persistent problem for regulatory probes during the pandemic, as the companies being investigated try to gather data from clients facing staff shortages and other operational barriers due to lockdown restrictions.
It comes just days after the US Federal Trade Commission sued to block Arm’s purchase of Nvidia’s, the world’s biggest largest chip maker for AI and graphics, arguing that the proposed deal would give it control over computing technology and designs that rivals rely on to develop their own competing chips.
A couple of weeks earlier, UK digital and cultural secretary Nadine Dorries launched a full-blown national security investigation into the beleaguered takeover plans, ordering a “phase 2” probe into whether the deal operates against public interest.
She thus instructed the UK competition watchdog (CMA) to carry out an in-depth inquiry into antitrust concerns and national security issues associated with the transaction.
“The secretary of state believes that the ubiquity of Arm technology makes the accessibility and reliability of Arm IP necessary for national security,” the government said in a letter last month.
Nvidia’s acquisition of Arm – Britain’s biggest technology company – from Japan’s SoftBank is already facing scrutiny by Chinese regulators, too.
The EU Commission’s competition watchdog first launched a probe in October into the takeover based on antitrust concerns and warned that the deal could push up prices, reduce choice and innovation in the sector.
Arm’s chip technology currently powers the majority of the world’s computing devices, from smartphones to cars connected to the internet, and thus supplies the world’s biggest tech companies, such as Microsoft, Google and Apple.
Nvidia has argued that the buyout will benefit Arm’s finances and the industry as a whole and said it would maintain Arm as a neutral technology supplier, in an attempt to relieve concerns from its tech giant customers.