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How ARM Holdings plc Gained 46% in July

By Anders Bylund - Aug 4, 2016 at 8:04AM

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A Japanese telecom with global ambitions is buying this chip technology specialist with a generous premium. Nobody saw this deal coming.

Image source: Getty Images.

What: Shares of ARM Holdings (ARMH) rose 45.8% in July 2016, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The jump happened overnight, as the British semiconductor technology researches agreed to be bought out by Japanese telecom SoftBank (SFTBF -2.16%).

So what: As buyouts go, this one is not terribly complicated. SoftBank will pay 17 pounds sterling per ARM share, all cash and no share exchanges. That works out to $67 per American depositary receipt, which is what trades on the NASDAQ exchange. SoftBank is taking on some new debt to finance the deal, but most of the payment comes straight out of its own bank accounts.

The preliminary closing date is set to Nov. 17, 2016. ARM shareholders must approve of the terms in a general vote, which is expected to pass with ease because SoftBank's bid if more than 40% above ARM's former all-time highs. British courts must also approve, but the deal is not subject to any regulatory reviews.

Now what: The deal avoids regulatory concerns because the two companies have very little in common. On the other hand, that same fact raises the question of what SoftBank plans to do with its new semicondutor tech asset.

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son sees the ARM deal as a play on the Internet of Things. ARM-based chips are already found driving pretty much every smartphone and tablet on the market, not to mention the company's large presence in automotive computing and medical equipment. This deal gives SoftBank a global presence in all of these markets.

That fits with Son's stated ambition to make SoftBank "the world's number one company." Not just the largest global telecom or the biggest tech business, but No. 1 in every way and every category. Reaching that grandiose goal will demand a few unexpected side turns along the way.

Son may not get that far, but it's certainly fun to watch him try.

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