The ink is barely dry on the contract, and yet Japanese firm Softbank, whose CEO, Masayoshi Son, led the £24bn acquisition of Cambridge based chip maker ARM Technologies in July last year, are already selling a quarter of it.
Well, it’s not quite as simple as that. After purchasing ARM last year, Son continued to lead a spending spree by the firm, buying up Asset Manager Fortress, before training his sights on WeWork, the co-working space Unicorn, pledging up to $4billion in investment – that deal is yet to be done.
At the same time, Son was busy setting up the biggest tech investment fund of all time, $100 billion, which was initially earmarked for investment into European and UK startups, before Son went to Trump Towers and pledged $50 billion of it to Donald Trump and America, promising to create 50,000 new American jobs.
Part of the $100 billion-dollar investment fund may be being funded by the Saudi royal family, however, and they have decided that they would like to invest a sizeable chunk of it – $8 billion, to be precise, into ARM technologies.
No problem, says Softbank / Son, you can have it in exchange for backing the new fund.
The Saudi royal family are investing through a vehicle called Mubadala, which has agreed in principle to contribute $15 billion to the fund, called the Softbank Vision fund. This is not to be confused with another Saudi based backer of the fund, the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, which is injecting $45 billion, thanks to negotiations between Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Saman, and Mr Son.
Nobody can accuse Son of resting on his laurels, that’s for sure, as he flies around the world, eyeing up acquisition targets whilst attracting new money to the fund almost at the same time.
The upshot of all these shenanigans is that Japan and Saudi Arabia will have their fingers in a lot of tech pies, including ARM, often described as the “Crown Jewels” of British tech, which is why when Theresa May signed off on the deal, which completed in September, she insisted that Softbank keep ARM’s headquarters in the UK, and double the size of the workforce here.
Watch this space – we get the feeling Mr Son is far from done yet, and it should be fun finding out who is next in line for a meeting with the charismatic CEO.
They’d better bring the company financials with them, just in case. Or a wallet the size of Trump Towers.