Truss prepares fresh bid to persuade SoftBank to list Arm in London

News

Prime minister Liz Truss and chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng are preparing to launch a last-ditch charm offensive to persuade Japan’s SoftBank to list British tech company Arm in the UK.

The government will push for high-level talks with SoftBank executives after the official period of mourning for the Queen ends next week, according to officials with knowledge of the situation.

The City of London has been rocked by a series of takeover attempts for some of its largest tech groups in recent months — such as Aveva, Microfocus and GB Group — adding further pressure on Truss’s new administration to show that the UK can arrest the erosion of its listed tech sector.

SoftBank has previously indicated that it wants to list Arm, the Cambridge-based chip designer that it acquired in 2016 for $32bn, in New York.

However, executives at the group had begun to talk with UK officials about the possibility of a rare dual listing that would allow the company to have a base on both sides of the Atlantic.

Such an arrangement would be viewed as a significant vote of confidence in the London stock market and would enable UK-focused investors and pension funds to invest in what is viewed as one of Britain’s biggest tech success stories.

SoftBank officials are still most interested in pursuing a single listing in New York, where tech companies tend to obtain much higher valuations, according to two people briefed on their thinking.

But one person familiar with the UK government’s plans said that Truss’s administration saw the chance to win at least part of SoftBank’s flotation as a “big and quick win” to show it was serious about the future of the City of London.

Talks between the government and SoftBank broke down in the summer after the departure of Boris Johnson, who had become personally involved in pitching London to the Japanese company.

Lord Gerry Grimstone, the former investment minister who led the talks before Johnson stood down as prime minister, is also no longer part of the government.

However, former digital minister Chris Philp, who was also part of the lobbying efforts, is now working alongside Kwarteng as chief secretary to the Treasury.

Officials warned that time was running out, however, given their expectations that SoftBank would need to decide in the next two months if it wanted to stick to a timetable to float as early as the first quarter of next year.

A banker involved in the talks said that New York was “the obvious choice”, but added that the decision by the US government to block the export of advanced chips by rival Nvidia to China has caused additional scrutiny of the regulatory risks of the US.

One person close to SoftBank executives said that they had been closely watching the outcome of the Conservative party leadership race, and were now braced for a fresh push to convince them of the merits of London.

Throughout the previous talks, however, SoftBank had never properly been convinced that a UK listing was necessary, the person added, setting up an uphill battle for the British government.

Securing any sort of London listing for Arm would be seized on as a statement of intent by Truss to support the City, coming alongside promises of “Big Bang 2.0” for financial services and sweeping deregulation.

The Treasury declined to comment.

Additional reporting by Leo Lewis in Tokyo

Articles You May Like

Ares Management CEO Michael Arougheti breaks down where to find yield in a world of uncertainty
For Sale: A Beaux Arts Masterpiece Beautifully Preserved In St. Louis
Crypto market dumps after Ethereum Merge, why? Watch The Market Report
Zacks Rank and Value Investing
NYC Comptroller urges bond use to finance better social outcomes