Rishi Sunak resumes discussions on London listing for UK tech company Arm

Rishi Sunak is reported to have resumed efforts to convince SoftBank, a Japanese investor, to list Arm in London.

SoftBank is considering listing Arm, which has its headquarters at Cambridge, since months. New York was thought to be the leading candidate.

Arm designs the chips that are embedded in 95% of all smartphones worldwide. SoftBank bought it in 2016. It was a member the FTSE 100 index in London. Because of its central role in the smartphone industry, it is considered the most important British tech company.

Sunak met Rene Haas (Arm chief executive) and Spencer Collins (chief legal officer), last month at Downing Street. According to the Financial Times, Masayoshi Son is the founder of SoftBank and Japan’s owner of Arm. He joined via video.

The UK government has repeatedly pushed for Arm’s return to the London Stock Exchange. This would be seen as a vote in confidence in the UK. During the past year of political turmoil, however, UK lobbying has been conducted under three prime ministers.

The FT reported that Andrew Griffith, UK’s City minister and executives from London Stock Exchange were also involved in talks with SoftBank. According to government disclosures, John Glen, a Treasury minister met with Arm and Softbank in June “to talk about Arm listing”.

In an attempt to convince fast-growing tech companies, the government and regulators made changes to UK’s listing rules. According to reports, government officials discussed dual listing Arm which would allow it trade in New York and London. Dual listings are more complex and can incur higher costs.

SoftBank paid $32bn, or PS26bn, for Arm in 2016, three weeks after the UK voted to leave the EU. This lowered the sterling’s value. In 2021, the Japanese investor tried to sell it to Nvidia, an American chipmaker. After regulators raised concerns, the $40bn deal was canceled.

SoftBank had planned to pursue a stock exchange listing, but this was thwarted by the global slump of tech companies’ value as interest rates rose.

Last year, Arm’s head for investor relations wrote to private shareholders to inform them that the listing plans were being delayed. He stated that it would not happen until March 2023 due to “current global economic uncertainty” as well as “the state of financial market”. He stated that the company was committed to an IPO in 2023.

Arm declined to comment. No 10 was contacted for comment.