back to article UK govt urged to bolt tough legal protections onto Arm and protect jobs – or simply veto Nvidia's £31bn acquisition

The UK government has been urged to add legal protections to the proposed £31bn sale of Brit chip designer Arm to Nvidia to protect jobs, protect its neutral business model, and make sure it remains headquartered in Cambridge. Speaking in Parliament last midnight, Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner noted that last time Arm was sold …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    Perhaps rather than pursuing the time honoured art of doing nothing and uttering stock phrases that don't even qualify as excuses, the UK government could consider looking for a partner to go in with them as partners in a purchase of Arm.

    They have partnered with Bharti on the One Web Deal, something similar to secure Arm now would be useful and then look at gradually reducing the government share over time.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do nothing until there is no other choice

    seems to be the mantra of the Civil (sic) Service and therefore Government these days.

    It would be nice to have a plan for say 'getting rid of Diesel trains on our railways' (or any one of 100+ other things) but no. The do the minimum just so that ministers (of any party) can say 'we are doing something' to MP's and the Media.

    Where are the 'Shovel Ready Projects' ?

    Where is the 'Oven ready deal' ?

    Answers on a pinhead please and send them to Downing St (for all the good it will do)

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Do nothing until there is no other choice

      Answers on a pinhead please and send them to Downing St (for all the good it will do)

      Sorry, but the print will be too small for Dominic Cummings to read and we don't want him to do a day trip up to Barnard Castle to check his eyesight again with an imminent Covid-19 second wave due

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do nothing until there is no other choice

      Cue Yes Minister quotes.

      Something must be done, this is something, therefore we must do it.

      Doing anything is worse than doing nothing.

  3. IGotOut Silver badge

    One Word.

    Cadbury.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One Word.

      @IGotOut

      I can not upvote you enough.

      Cheers… Ishy

    2. Zimmer
      Unhappy

      Re: One Word.-- much more than ONE word

      Arriva (Deutsche Bahn) , Northumbria Water ( Cheung Kong Holdings) , Southern Water (J.P. Morgan + Hermes Infrastructure - biggest shareholders, USA) , EDF, E-On ..Rover Group, MG Rover Group,

      Rolls-Royce Motors, Bentley Motorsetc etc etc

  4. _LC_ Silver badge
    Flame

    Sit!

    "The UK government has been urged to add legal protections to the proposed £31bn sale of Brit chip designer Arm to Nvidia"

    .

    The same legal protection Assange is enjoying in Belmarsh?

    *lol* Sit! And don't poop on the carpet...

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: Sit!

      That ship already sailed. It was sold to Softbank.

      1. ge

        Re: Sit!

        Softbank is not in the chip business itself, but there's an overlap with NVidia.

  5. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Of course the UK gov won't be interested in intervening as much now Arm is being bought by an American company, because of our 'special relationship' with the US and we are looking to get a post Brexit trade deal with them, they don't want to start rocking the boat.

    This is the same reason the UK haven't kicked up too much fuss over the killing of British teenager Harry Dunn by an American Anne Sacoolas and the US refusing to extradite her. Yet imagine how much fuss the US would kick up if were a reversed situation, they would be threatening to boycott UK made products and services until something was done.

    1. Nonymous Crowd Nerd

      I know it's off topic, but Harry Dunn's death was a tragic accident. There's been no mention of any aggravating circumstances regarding the woman's driving - like high blood alcohol, or previous similar cases. There was obviously no premeditation. And this driving on the wrong side of the road error just does happen. If I'm honest, I've done it myself after returning from extending driving overseas. If she had gone through the whole UK legal process she would probably have been given a hefty fine, lost her licence for maybe three years and a perhaps got a suspended sentence. There's almost no chance she would have gone to prison - and that's the reason why it's a bit difficult to get too aggressive regarding extradition. Compare this, for instance, to the Salisbury Novichoc poisoners. They came with the intent to kill, to cause an agonisingly painful death and with little regard for collateral injuries. And yet still we cannot extradite. Extradition isn't easy. Even from an ally.

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Why sell Arm anyway ?

    It's doing good, isn't it ? What's the point in selling it ? Who benefits from this ?

    Arm won't. Being folded into Nvidia will obviously get those in Arm's graphic section shed when their specific knowledge has been "transferred". For Nvidia, well it already has chip designers that do a fine job, it doesn't really need more of them. This must simply be to gain control of Arm's IP and patents, in order to control that down the line.

    If that is true, then it is all of Arm's employees that are at risk.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why sell Arm anyway ?

      "Who benefits from this ?"

      The government won't do anything on this sale as they have the post-Brexit US trade deal to consider and some of them will probably be shareholders.

      1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
        Gimp

        Re: Why sell Arm anyway ?

        It's not only needing a US trade deal which will have our government not do anything but the entire Brexit thing.

        Those "not stupid" who voted for it, who pretend they studied the issue in depth, weighed up the pros and cons, refuse to understand Brexit was a globalist's wet dream, and intended as such, where "we are open for business" means everything is for sale and ready for exploiting. May was applauding the sale of ARM as the shining example of that.

        We all need to be lubing ourselves up and getting ready for the Great Brexit Shafting. We're America's bitch now.

        1. Nonymous Crowd Nerd

          Re: Why sell Arm anyway ?

          The sad truth is that we've been "open for business" since the days of Margaret Thatcher. There's no reason Brexit should make things worse. It could even make things better since we don't have EU subsidy rules to conform to. But frankly, I doubt it will make any difference at all.

          And I have for years shared your sad image whenever any *%&£ politician says that the UK is "open for business" of Britannia from the old coins bending over with her skirts pulled up ready for the globalist invasion.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why sell Arm anyway ?

      "What's the point in selling it ? Who benefits from this ?"

      Softbank need the money.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Why sell Arm anyway ?

      SoftBank made some disastrous investments (E.g. Uber and WeWork) and their major shareholder has pulled out, so they need some liquidity, so they are selling off ARM to help out.

      Poor move to my mind, it is one of the investments that will bring long term rewards... But the investment "industry" is only interested in the next 3 months and anything long term is not sexy, if it doesn't bolster their immediate earnings.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Why sell Arm anyway ?

        "Poor move to my mind, it is one of the investments that will bring long term rewards"

        It's a short-term gain for long-term pain, yes, but if you are in a short-term hole, you can only sell assets somebody wants.

        1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

          Re: Why sell Arm anyway ?

          It's called "capitalism" and has nothing to do with common sense, workers or public anything and everything to do with someone's perception of cash value ... Sell it and make loads of money today on one side, keep it and make smaller amounts of money for much longer but with more risk tomorrow on the other - where's the pendulum of cash likely to swing?

          The issue was that it was sold to foreign investors in the first place but, for whatever reason, that's the way the UK Government apparently like things to be.

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: Why sell Arm anyway ?

            "It's called "capitalism""..."

            It's not capitalism. It's just reality. Unless you want to live in a society without property, in which all things are decreed by a central dictator and people do what they are told or die, you need a medium of exchange. Even in barter economies, if you need food and you have only a cow, you can either barter the cow for food or kill the cow and eat it. You then won't be able to use the milk to pay for other things people have.

            If you need liquid assets and have only illiquid ones, you have to liquidate your assets.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Why sell Arm anyway ?

      "Who benefits from this ?"

      Softbank who need some readies after so many of their investments didn't wework out terribly well for them.

    5. oiseau Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Why sell Arm anyway ?

      ... simply be to gain control of Arm's IP and patents, in order to control that down the line.

      It's quite obvious.

      Call me paranoid if you will, but I suspect that the previous sale of ARM Holdings to SoftBank was just part of a scheme to get where we are today.

      All this under a Tory Government occupation of 10 Downing St.

      O.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Why sell Arm anyway ?

        OK. You're paranoid.

  7. bitwise

    They don't care about British industry

    Unless it is lining their pockets they don't care.

  8. naive

    Poor Europe

    Afterwards we whine because Europe has no tech industry and is reduced to an amusement park for rich Asian entrepeneurs.

    We sell the future high tech jobs of our children for a buck and a half because our governments are slaves of Wall street barons.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "Afterwards we whine because Europe has no tech industry "

      Should read

      Afterwards we whine because Europe Britain has no tech industry

      You voted to leave "Europe" in 2016.

      Remember?

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: "Afterwards we whine because Europe has no tech industry "

        "You voted to leave "Europe" in 2016."

        Again, EU != Europe.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "Afterwards we whine because Europe has no tech industry "

        "You voted to leave "Europe" in 2016."

        Oh no I didn't.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          "Oh no I didn't."

          Well no.

          But "you" as in the collective members of the UK population.

          Y'know, "The will of the people" as BB like to put it (carefully massaged by Cambridge Analytica's lies and without any help from Russian troll farms. No siree. No evidence of s**t stirring by Russia.

          Just the 30 odd years of Boris's "work" starting at the Telegraph.

  9. steamnut

    No way to stop it

    After the Cadbury debacle it is obvious that our Governments (left or right) have no power to stop wealthy foreign companies doing exactly what they want. Our railways, airports, airlines, utilities and car companies, to name a few, are all owned by foreign companies so ARM is not a special case, more another example of why the UK is no longer a great nation.

    Over the centuries we have invented many great things but we have seldom capitalised on them. In WWII the Germans shot at our planes with a plane (ME262) powered by a jet engine which our military rejected as it "didn't have a propeller".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No way to stop it

      The British were flying prototype jets from 1942, and the Gloster Meteor first saw combat in 1944.

      1. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: No way to stop it

        Yes, but we had the design ready before WW2.

      2. Lars Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: No way to stop it

        @AC

        I can't quite get my arm around you comment regarding jet engines as RR is still British and doing well, far as I know also your comment contains errors.

        Try the Wikipedia for better information.

        "Their subsequent designs culminated in the gasoline-fuelled HeS 3 of 5 kN (1,100 lbf), which was fitted to Heinkel's simple and compact He 178 airframe and flown by Erich Warsitz in the early morning of August 27, 1939, from Rostock-Marienehe aerodrome, an impressively short time for development. The He 178 was the world's first jet plane.[14] Heinkel applied for a US patent covering the Aircraft Power Plant by Hans Joachim Pabst von Ohain on May 31, 1939; patent number US2256198, with M Hahn referenced as inventor.

        Austrian Anselm Franz of Junkers' engine division (Junkers Motoren or "Jumo") introduced the axial-flow compressor in their jet engine. Jumo was assigned the next engine number in the RLM 109-0xx numbering sequence for gas turbine aircraft powerplants, "004", and the result was the Jumo 004 engine. After many lesser technical difficulties were solved, mass production of this engine started in 1944 as a powerplant for the world's first jet-fighter aircraft, the Messerschmitt Me 262 (and later the world's first jet-bomber aircraft, the Arado Ar 234). A variety of reasons conspired to delay the engine's availability, causing the fighter to arrive too late to improve Germany's position in World War II, however this was the first jet engine to be used in service."

        Meanwhile, in Britain the Gloster E28/39 had its maiden flight on 15 May 1941 and the Gloster Meteor finally entered service with the RAF in July 1944".

        ....

        "The Meteor first flew in 1943 and commenced operations on 27 July 1944

        "The Meteor saw limited action in the Second World War".

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_engine

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gloster_Meteor

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "our Governments (left or right) have no power to stop wealthy foreign companies "

      Wrong.

      They have no interest in stopping foreign companies buy up WTF they please.

      With the exception of BAe.

      Oh no. Billions Above estimate cannot be bought because they really are (supposedly) vital to the UK's defense.

  10. devTrail

    how to harm a caause

    The most perfidious way of harming a cause is to deliberately defend it with faulty arguments.

    This quote is more than a century old, but it is truer than ever, nowadays you can see the same trick applied over and over again on mainstream, non mainstream media and politics.

    The argument of job protection can be questioned because Softbank is in troubled waters and can't give more guarantees than NVidia. The argument of the local technology going into foreign hands has also been ignored countless of times, moreover both of them have a thin legal base.

    The argument about NVidia acquiring a dominant position in the smartphones, tablet, IOT/embedded market instead has a strong legal base. How can you allow a single player get control over the patents and the technologies used by all the competitors?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UK govt to nVidia: you need to sign this legally binding undertaking regarding ARM.

    nVidia to govt: So, like the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement...?

  12. Rich 2 Silver badge

    Duh!!

    “... first need to determine whether there is a public interest aspect to the sale...”

    Oooo - let me think? FFS.

  13. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Unhappy

    The tories

    wont care who its sold to, far as they are concerned so long as its making a profit for its investors , everything is fine.

    Remember the tories only care about 2 things, money and power

    Boris

    Oh and before anyone gets triggered , Labour only cares about 2 things too, Power and money

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Like you think this government has an *actual* "Industrial Policy"

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    "The market*, the whole market and nothing" but the market has been UK Govt mantra since the Adoration of the Blessed Maggie in 1979.

    But an actual policy takes an actual vision of what you want to achieve beyond "line my pockets with as much loot as possible"

    Something the assorted chancers with their degrees in talking and writing fluent bu***hit (History, Classics, English for example) have little or no grasp of. "Character" is the word that describes a part in a drama played by a specific actor, not a personality trait

    *WhateverTF "Market" actually means in some contexts, like that for electricity supply and gas for example.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Like you think this government has an *actual* "Industrial Policy"

      "The market, the whole market and nothing" but the market has been UK Govt mantra since the Adoration of the Blessed Maggie in 1979.

      It might have escaped your notice but your favourite hate figure is the only UK prime minister we've ever had (one one of only a few ministers overall) with a STEM background.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "It might have escaped your notice but your favourite hate figure is the only UK

        prime minister we've ever had (one one of only a few ministers overall) with a STEM background."

        It hasn't.

        And I credit that with her ability to tell the difference between all the BS projected about the EEC and later EU with the reality of power. I doubt she'd ever have let some back bencher have a referendum bill like the stupid and weak Cameron did.

        Although it's interesting to note she seemed to get involved in politics after she trained as a barrister, which has much less to do with facts and much more with convincing people of your PoV (IE the defendant is innocent) regardless of such details as the actual facts.

  15. Len Silver badge
    Meh

    Little leverage left

    As I understand it the UK government has very little leverage left. In 2016, when ARM was sold to Japanese company Softbank, ARM was still a British owned business and the UK government had more leverage. They agreed a five year deal with Softbank to keep ARM headquarters in Cambridge and to grow the workforce in the UK. That five year deal will expire next year.

    As ARM is now Japanese owned and sold to an American firm so this is now a deal between a Japanese and an American firm. ARM is no longer British owned so there is very little involvement by the UK government. The only lever that the UK government have to refer this to local competition authorities is that ARM is a supplier to UK armed forces which gives a slightly thin national security link. There are doubts whether that will be enough to do anything substantial.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Little leverage left

      I’m at a loss to understand why no one else has pointed this out. Japanese owned company sold to US company.

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Little leverage left

      "As ARM is now Japanese owned and sold to an American firm so this is now a deal between a Japanese and an American firm. ARM is no longer British owned so there is very little involvement by the UK government."

      Well, Donald Trump seems to be able to force the sale of a Chinese company to an American one, so it is possible to be involved. Whether the UK government has the power/lack of morals to do so is different.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Little leverage left

        "Well, Donald Trump seems to be able to force the sale of a Chinese company to an American one"

        Actually, no. All he had was the ability to make it difficult for a Chinese company to operate its US arm in certain circumstances.

  16. Mike Richards Silver badge

    It’d be nice to not hand the US control of all major processor architectures. We’re already seeing with China that they are prepared to use their influence to strangle foreign rivals.

    But this is the country that gave up its space programme on the strength of an American promise that we could launch payloads on their rockets - which was promptly withdrawn after Black Arrow as sent to the knacker’s yard, so I doubt anything will be done.

    1. JBowler

      RISC-V is open source

      >It’d be nice to not hand the US control of all major processor architectures.

      True and the next president of the US will certainly continue the tepid war with China. However the damage has already been done; blocking Chinese (mainland) access to ancillary technology is as effective as blocking the CPU tech itself.

      Possibly the US will relax these restrictions if we control the ARM as well; then the mainland will be faced with off-shore designs that increasingly use other US designed components. US behavior has always been incredibly US-centric even before our current president.

      The one sure result is that RISC-V, or a fork, will become the dominant technology. Open sourcing the ARM is the only way of avoiding that and that will not happen. The lackluster approach of forcing ARM Ltd to become a public company doesn't mean the tech can't be controlled from these lands; such control merely requires arrogance.

      Or maybe someone out there thinks that the original arrangement, back when ARM Ltd was controlled by Olivetti and Apple, might work? There was some notional idea that the ARM licenses had some manner of control or input so that if Olivetti or Apple started to get scared of them neither company could lock their competitors out of the design process. I don't know how that worked but I doubt it would work today even if it worked in 1990.

      Of course BoJo could nationalise the operation on the basis that it is a strategic resource that should not be controlled from elsewhere.

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