SoftBank lines up Apple, Nvidia, Intel as strategic investors for Arm IPO as chipmaker rides A.I. wave


SoftBank Group Corp. has lined up some of Arm Ltd.’s biggest customers as strategic investors for the chip company’s initial public offering, including Apple Inc., Nvidia Corp., Intel Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co., according to people familiar with the situation.

The investors also include Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Cadence Design Systems Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Synopsys Inc., among others, said the people, who asked not to identified because the details haven’t been announced. SoftBank has been in discussions with Arm customers and partners for months, but the plans are just being finalized now. Still, the specifics could change as the company gets closer to the IPO, which is expected to have its investor roadshow underway by next week.

The investors will put in amounts ranging from $25 million to $100 million, according to the people.

The show of support from some of the tech industry’s biggest names will help bolster the offering, which is expected to raise $5 billion to $7 billion. SoftBank, which acquired Arm in 2016, was previously aiming to value the chip business at $60 billion to $70 billion, but the figure could be more in the range of $50 billion to $60 billion, Bloomberg has reported.

The offering may be on the lower end of that range, Reuters reported Saturday. Softbank will seek $47 to $51 per share in the IPO, valuing Arm at between $50 billion and $54 billion, Reuters said.

Representatives from AMD, Arm, Google, Nvidia and Synopsys declined to comment. Apple, Cadence, Intel and Samsung didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

SoftBank is capitalizing on investor interest in the chip industry, which has benefited from spending on artificial intelligence equipment. The Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index has rallied this year, far outpacing the S&P 500 Index and other major indexes.

Arm provides chip designs and licenses technology that’s a crucial part of the more than 1 billion smartphones sold every year. In recent years, it has tried to spread its reach into new areas, including computers used in data centers, seeking to be part of higher-priced electronic components.

Arm is considering pricing its shares on Sept. 13, and the stock will start trading the next day, Bloomberg reported earlier this week. The roadshow to promote the offering is expected to come after the US Labor Day holiday on Monday.

Initially, Arm was looking to raise $8 billion to $10 billion, but the target was lowered after owner SoftBank decided to hold on to more of the company — a move that involved buying Vision Fund’s stake in the chip designer. That transaction valued the chip company at more than $64 billion.

A successful debut by Arm would be a boon for SoftBank Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son, whose Vision Fund lost a record $30 billion last year. It could also spur dozens of companies to pursue their own IPO plans. Online grocery-delivery firm Instacart Inc., marketing and data automation provider Klaviyo and footwear maker Birkenstock are all working on their own offerings.

Son doesn’t want to part with more than 10% of the company at this point, Bloomberg has reported.

Arm, based in Cambridge, England, has assembled a lengthly roster of underwriters for the IPO, reflecting both the company’s global reach and banks’ eagerness to land roles on big-ticket deals in a slow listings market. Barclays Plc, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Mizuho Financial Group are leading the offering.

    — With assistance by Mark Gurman, Davey Alba, and Ellie Harmsworth

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