Nvidia admits acquisition of British chip designer Arm may take longer than 18 months

Technology

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang has admitted for the first time that the company’s planned acquisition of British chip designer Arm may take longer than the initially-scheduled 18 months. The acquisition, which would bring together two of the most powerful chip companies in the world, is facing scrutiny from regulators in the US, UK, and China.

“Our discussions with regulators are taking longer than initially thought, so it’s pushing out the timetable,” Huang told The Financial Times. “It’s not one particular delay,” he added. “But we’re confident in the deal, we’re confident regulators should recognize the benefits of the acquisition.”

Huang was previously unwavering in his prediction that the acquisition would be completed by March next year. The agreement between Nvidia and Arm’s current owner SoftBank gives the US chip designer until the end of 2022 to clear the purchase with regulators.

The opposition to the deal is varied and speaks to Arm’s global importance. In the UK, for example, regulators are investigating the purchase on national security grounds, but politicians have also decried the takeover as a blow to Britain’s tech industry and its sovereignty on the global stage. In the US, the FTC opened an investigation into the acquisition after Google, Microsoft, and Qualcomm complained it would limit competition. And in China, control of the globally-critical chip industry is seen as an important geopolitical battleground with the US. Chinese regulators previously nixed an attempt by American firm Qualcomm to buy Dutch manufacturer NXP Semiconductors.

Much of the scrutiny is due to Arm’s ubiquity and perceived neutrality in the global chip business. The company sells designs to a variety of firms including Apple, Amazon, and Samsung. And while its ownership by SoftBank was seen as unproblematic as the Japanese corporation does not compete directly with these companies, there are more potential conflicts under Nvidia’s ownership, especially as Arm’s chips are increasingly favored for PCs.