US chipmaker Qualcomm is reportedly looking to buy a stake in the UK’s semiconductor darling Arm.
“We’re an interested party in investing,” Cristiano Amon, Qualcomm’s chief executive, told the Financial Times last night. “It’s a very important asset and it’s an asset which is going to be essential to the development of our industry.”
Amon added that Qualcomm, one of Arm’s biggest customers, could rope in other chipmakers buy Arm, providing the group was “big enough”.
The move could settle concerns over the corporate control of Arm after the upcoming IPO.
It comes just daysafter the government announced it would be launching an inquiry into the UK’s semiconductor industry, amid the controversial takeover of the country’s largest chipmaker, Newport Wafer Fab, by a Chinese firm.
The probe, carried out by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, will look into the industry’s strengths and weaknesses – as pandemic-induced supply chain issues leave chips in short supply.
“Semiconductors are growing in technological and geopolitical importance. With scarce global supply, it’s essential that we conduct a stock take of the UK’s capacity and what government can do to raise it,” Committee chair Darren Jones said today, adding that the government is seeking a better picture of the industry “at a time when there are concerns over the future of global supply chains.”
Businesses have been battling over semiconductors, which are found in most tech – including cars and smartphones – after a trickling supply pushed many firms to cut their production forecasts.
The takeover of Welsh Newport Wafer Fab by China’s Nexperia has raised eyebrows in government, with prime minister Boris Johnson saying in July last year that the national security adviser would investigate the deal.
The Foreign Affairs Committee also cautioned at the beginning of April that the sale potentially compromises national security.
“Semiconductors are a hugely valuable and ubiquitous component in modern technologies, “senior director at Global Counsel, Stephen Adams said in a report by Imagination Technologies ad Global Counsel published at the beginning of the month.
“We need to think carefully about what the UK’s place should be in the global value chain that underpins them. Playing to our strengths and prioritising strategic interdependence can ensure the UK remains a global leader.”