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Softbank to acquire ARM

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The UK semiconductor company, ARM, may soon be acquired by Japan’s Softbank for £24.3 billion.

The Cambridge-based firm is best known for designing microchips used in most smartphones, including Apple's and Samsung's. However, this year it was announcedthat the upgrade to the K computer, Japan’s flagship supercomputer housed at RIKENwould also use ARM-based processors.

News of the acquisition caused shares in ARM to increase by 45 per cent at the open of the London Stock Exchange, adding £7.56bn to ARM's market value. The acquisition is to be funded through £16.7 billion in cash and a further £7.3 billion loan.

During the announcement, Softbank released press materials indicating that the motivation behind the purchase was to capitalise on the growing IoT market. This is a particularly strong area for ARM as they produce some of the most energy efficient processors available, making them well suited to embedded computing applications such as IoT.

While it is not clear if Softbank plan to continue ARM’s foray into high-performance computing (HPC), the company did say that it would keep ARM headquarters in Cambridge and planned to double the number of staff over the next five years.