UK competition watchdog to investigate Nvidia takeover of Arm

Third parties will have until 26 January to voice their concerns about the deal

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an investigation into Nvidia’s £30 billion Arm acquisition.

The regulator will assess what effect the deal, which finalised in September, will have on the UK market, including whether the takeover would hinder rival companies from accessing Arm technology.

In an official statement, the CMA said that it is “likely to consider whether, following the takeover, Arm has an incentive to withdraw, raise prices or reduce the quality of its IP licensing services to Nvidia’s rivals”.

In order to open the investigation, the regulator has invited third parties to share their “views on the impact of the deal on competition”. The deadline for comments has been set for 26 January.

Commenting on the announcement, CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said that “the chip technology industry is worth billions and critical to many of the products that we use most in our everyday lives”.

“We will work closely with other competition authorities around the world to carefully consider the impact of the deal and ensure that it doesn’t ultimately result in consumers facing more expensive or lower quality products,” he added.

Prior to Brexit, the responsibility of investigating complex competition cases lay with the European Commission. However, due to the UK officially leaving the EU, the CMA has now taken over the task of assessing the impacts of potentially dangerous acquisitions, making this the first major action the regulator has taken since leaving the bloc.

Nvidia’s takeover of Arm from Softbank had been met with some backlash within the industry, and also within the UK's government, over fears that the US semiconductor giant could move Arm's operations out of Cambridge.

Arm’s major customers include Intel and Qualcomm, which are also considered some of Nvidia’s main competitors.

Nvidia was not immediately available for comment. The company had previously stated that “the regulatory process is confidential” and that it “won't be providing comment on milestones along the way”.

A company spokesperson has previously said that the approval process of the acquisition is expected to take about 18 months from the day the deal was signed.

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