Arm to Transfer IoT Data Unit to Softbank, Focus on Chips

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Arm Ltd. plans to transfer its data and device-management business to parent Softbank Group Corp. to focus on its main semiconductor operations and accelerate growth.

The Internet of Things Services Group was billed by Arm as a key initiative to expand into managing information from millions of new devices being connected to the internet.

The change will put Arm in a stronger position to innovate in its central business “and provide our partners with greater support to capture the expanding opportunities for compute solutions across a range of markets,’ Arm Chief Executive Officer Simon Segars said Tuesday in a statement. The transaction will require board approval, the company said.

The Cambridge, England-based company is one of Softbank founder Masayoshi Son’s biggest bets. He bought Arm in 2016 for $32 billion saying that the company’s technology, which was already at the heart of all smartphones, had greater potential to grow as connectivity expands to become part of most electronics.

Arm sells chip designs and also licenses the fundamentals of semiconductors that are used by companies such as Apple Inc. and Qualcomm Inc. to create their own chips.

Softbank’s founder has come under pressure as some of his other projects have unraveled or fallen well short of his bullish projections. In May, Softbank reported a record operating loss triggered by the writedown of portfolio companies at its Vision Fund arm. Many Vision Fund investments, including Uber Technologies Inc., tumbled in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic, which has curtailed demand for ride hailing and other sharing economy services that Son has long favored.

Son has said that he planned to cash in on his investment in Arm by returning it to the public markets once it had gone through a heavy period of investment to fuel new growth. The IoT business was part of this plan. Arm’s leadership argued that the difficultly in managing new devices and exploiting related data was holding back the adoption of technology such as building sensors and connected factory equipment.

Softbank’s leader has been vague about when he might sell shares in Arm. In 2018, he said it would happen in about five years.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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