Europe follows UK lead in probing proposed Nvidia acquisition of Arm

A couple of months after the UK decided to take a closer look at the semiconductor mega-M&A, the European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation.

One of the advantages of being unshackled from such a massive bureaucracy is the ability to make decisions more quickly. It was only when the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority took over the review of the Virgin Media O2 merger that it was fast-tracked towards approval. Similarly, the CMA realised last August that US chip giant Nvidia’s proposed acquisition of chip designer deserved closer scrutiny. For some reason it has taken the EC until now to come to the same conclusion.

“Whilst Arm and Nvidia do not directly compete, Arm’s IP is an important input in products competing with those of Nvidia, for example in datacentres, automotive and in Internet of Things,” said EC EVP in charge of competition Margrethe Vestager.

“Our analysis shows that the acquisition of Arm by Nvidia could lead to restricted or degraded access to Arm’s IP, with distortive effects in many markets where semiconductors are used. Our investigation aims to ensure that companies active in Europe continue having effective access to the technology that is necessary to produce state-of-the-art semiconductor products at competitive prices.”

Do you reckon? We could have told her that as soon as the move was announced but here we are, over a year later. What special insight the EC gleaned from such a long period of contemplation is unclear, but we’re not betting on it expediting the eventual investigation at all.

Our position remains unchanged, which is that it’s hard to see what measures, concessions and reassurances Nvidia could offer to sufficiently reduce the risk of Arm offering superior service and perhaps even earlier access to its new designs to Nvidia if the acquisition was allowed to complete. Indeed, why would Nvidia want to drop so much money on Arm, whose designs it already has access to on the same terms as everyone else, if not to give itself additional competitive advantage?

One comment

  1. Avatar Jim 29/10/2021 @ 12:33 am

    Cause Arm chips with NVDA cores and on board programs would help the whole world.

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