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Boris Johnson joins effort to secure Arm London listing – report

arm listing
Image credit: Shutterstock / Sundry Photography

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reportedly written to SoftBank in a last-ditch bid to persuade the Japanese conglomerate to list semiconductor designer Arm in London instead of New York.

The development, first reported by the Financial Times, follows US-based tech giant Nvidia abandoning its $40bn (£29.6bn) takeover of Arm earlier this year due to “significant regulatory challenges”.

Arm parent company SoftBank said it will instead list the semiconductor IP firm as a separate public company.

A government spokesperson said: “We hope Arm will continue to build its business here, drawing on the UK’s unrivalled mix of skills and capital.”

An Arm spokesperson declined to comment.

Cambridge-based Arm, which designs and licences processors used in many of the world’s smartphones and computers, is widely considered the “crown jewel” of the UK tech industry.

When SoftBank acquired Arm in 2016 for $32bn (£23.4bn), critics bemoaned the deal as a failure to protect one of the UK’s leading technology companies.

If Arm were to list internationally, it would be a blow for the UK’s IPO markets as the government looks to attract more London listings by high-growth tech firms.

Babylon Health, for example, opted to list in the US last year. And last month London-based BenevolentAI begin trading on Amsterdam’s Euronext market.

The listing was undeterred by the government’s IPO reforms that aim to make the UK a more attractive location to list post-Brexit.

While some big-name tech firms shunned London, last year saw UK tech IPOs raise a record of £6.6bn, twice the amount in 2020, with Deliveroo and Moonpig among them.

“It cannot be underestimated how much is at stake with ARM’s listing,” said Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates.

“This would clearly be the most valuable tech listing on the LSE – and a great ‘coming-home’ story too. This is not just about image and reputation – this decision holds significant national, strategic importance with respect to the importance of the semiconductor industry globally.”

Shaw welcomed the government intervention and added that if successful it could “encourage a future pipeline of tech unicorns to consider flotations in the UK public markets”.