Downing Street was totally mesmerised by Softbank chief Masayoshi Son when he was invited into the inner sanctum and encouraged to buy Cambridge-based Arm Holdings in 2016.
The deal was portrayed as a vote of confidence in Britain and the five-year pledge to support research and development, and jobs in the UK, taken at face value.
Far from being a long-term investor, Son has demonstrably been shown to be a trader in tech assets, backing flops such as WeWork and even Greensill. He survived because of the phenomenal returns on his Alibaba, stock which he is currently selling down.
Softbank’s efforts to sell out Arm’s tech wizardry to Nvidia for £50bn – a bid which was worth twice that as Nvidia stock soared in the pandemic – hit obstacles from anti-trust authorities
In this universe, Arm has been nothing but a bit player. Useful to Son in building relations with Beijing and enticing Saudi Arabia into his Vision Fund, but never the transforming tech for his telecom and other interests, as originally described.
Softbank’s efforts to sell out Arm’s tech wizardry to Nvidia for £50billion – a bid which was worth twice that as Nvidia stock soared in the pandemic – hit obstacles from anti-trust authorities in every region.
So now Son is counting on an IPO to restore cash. Out goes Arm chief Simon Segars, who earned no loyalty for unstinting support for Nvidia (in spite of the opprobrium of founder Hermann Hauser), and in comes American Rene Haas.
All the signs are that, irrespective of its UK university and tech heritage, Arm will float on Nasdaq.
Boris Johnson, the London Stock Exchange and the City cannot allow that. Arm is a European tech leader.
City deal-makers must convince Son he needs to return a British champion to its roots.
Winds of change
There is no disguising the fact that BP’s cash machine was in overdrive in 2021, returning £9.5billion in earnings – the biggest gain in eight years.
The extraordinary profitability of big oil, when households are reeling from surging home heating and fuel costs, is incongruous to say the least.
It has agitators from across the political spectrum frothing at the mouth and calling for a windfall tax.
Such a tax could certainly help pay citizens’ and corporate energy bills in 2022.
But it is also worth noting that the UK’s tax system, in spite of …….