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ARM Holdings : #Brexit Mascot? Acquiring a 'Crown Jewel' At A Steal?

Posted on July 18, 2016 at 9:00 PM

I know nothing makes sense any more after that vote, but really. I watched my BBC Breakfast News in horror this morning as I was repeatedly told by the BBC that Britain was clearly  'open for business' as UK technology firm ARM Holdings was to be bought by Japan's Softbank for £24bn.

(I was so impressed by ARM that at one point (not now) I held shares in it in a self-managed SIPP).

What struck me was that ARM had clearly become the #BrexitMascot. It was all 'see....people still love our companies despite the vote to leave the EU.' Really ?

What happened to making sure that important strategic plcs were not too easily subject to takeover? What happened to the UK Government's big technology push (on which, if you are still up at midnight, see me at Forbes just google Dina Medland Forbes)? And what happened to honesty ?

This is how CFOs in UK plc have been feeling post Brexit, according to Deloitte.

Amongst all the (mostly not worth answering) emails that hit my inbox, I am indebted to this one.

"Commenting on the announcement that ARM has been acquired by Softbank and how it is the clearest illustration possible of global currency volatility consequences, John Haynes, Head of Research at Investec Wealth & Investment, said:

“The announcement of an agreed bid for ARM Holdings by Softbank of Japan is the clearest illustration possible of the consequences of the current global currency volatility. Assuming the bid price, Softbank is paying over 25% less in yen terms compared to over a year ago to acquire this crown jewel of UK, and indeed global, intellectual property" (my emphasis). And that is so, not right.

He did go on to say; "The devaluation of sterling will continue to provide interesting investment opportunities for overseas investors to buy UK assets, including central London property, at a discount" - make of that what you will.

I just find the hypocrisy stupefying - do we support our clever, innovative tech companies, or not ? Is it 'Britain is open for business' or 'Britain is up for sale?'

It is getting on for a month since that referendum vote now. We have a new government whose Prime Minister Theresa May, surprised everyone (including me) by talking about corporate governance first thing - but I am not sure we are any the wiser on whether it really matters, or it's just words.

Sadly, that is the last thing a disaffected country needs to find a reason to pull together. Not that most people give a hoot what hapens to ARM - but they should.

Categories: Governance, Scrutiny, Technology