The Wall Street Journal: SoftBank considers sale or IPO of British chip designer Arm Holdings

SoftBank Group Corp. is exploring alternatives including a full or partial sale or public offering of British chip designer Arm Holdings, which the Japanese conglomerate bought four years ago for $32 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

The review, on which Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is advising, is at an early stage, the people said. It isn’t known how much interest financial or industry players might have in Arm, and it is possible SoftBank will ultimately choose to do nothing.

SoftBank
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has previously indicated it could return Arm to public markets at some point. Such a move has gained urgency, however, as SoftBank seeks to raise cash from its varied stable of assets to mollify activist investor Elliott Management Corp., which has been agitating for changes at the company.

SoftBank has said it plans to sell up to $41 billion in assets to prop up its struggling portfolio and buy back its own shares, which trade at a steep discount relative to net asset value. It has a grab bag of assets to choose from; in addition to Arm and roughly $20 billion worth of T-Mobile US Inc.
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shares it recently sold, SoftBank also owns large stakes in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
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and a leading Japanese cellphone provider.

SoftBank bought Arm, which designs microprocessors that power most of the world’s smartphones, in 2016. At the time it was SoftBank’s largest-ever acquisition.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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