Arm: UK chip designer shares surge in market return

Arm Holdings CEO Rene Haas poses with the Opening Bell Crystal at the Nasdaq MarketSite on September 14, 2023 in New York City.
Arm Holdings chief Rene Haas at the company's market return

Investors snapped up shares of UK chip designer Arm Holdings as it returned to the stock market, sending its market value to more than $60bn (£48.3bn).

The shares ended trade on Thursday worth more than $63 each, after rising by almost 25% from the $51 apiece that Arm received from the sale.

The sale was the biggest initial public offering of the year, raising $4.87bn for owner Softbank Group.

The share price jump has been seen as a vote of confidence in the firm.

"Despite some concerns about the company's exposure to numerous risks in China, it's not stopped a juggernaut of enthusiasm," said Susannah Streeter head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown.

A star of the British technology industry, Arm designs chips for devices including smartphones and game consoles. It estimates that 70% of the world's population uses products that rely on its chips, including nearly all of the world's smartphones.

Chief executive Rene Haas said the company saw further opportunity for growth, as investments in artificial intelligence (AI) drive demand for its products.

"You can't run AI without Arm," he said. "We think we're just at the beginning."

Arm's return to the stock market was much anticipated. The firm, which has its headquarters in Cambridge, had faced heavy lobbying to list its shares in the UK.

But in March, in a blow to the London stock market, Arm announced that it would move forward in the US.

Mr Haas, who is based in the US, said the firm chose to list on the Nasdaq for its experience handling large share sales by tech firms. He told the BBC that the firm was open to considering listing in London "down the road".

Hermann Hauser, who was involved in the development of the first Arm processor, told the BBC's Today programme that the UK's decision to leave the European Union was partly to blame for the shares being listed in the US rather than the UK, as it had affected the standing of the London Stock Exchange.

"The hope, of course, was to have a dual listing… but that wasn't really possible because of the size of the [initial public offering] and the London Stock Exchange isn't the size it used to be," Mr Hauser said.

Softbank said it had sold 95.5 million shares for $51 apiece. The company will retain a roughly 90% stake.

Arm was taken private by SoftBank seven years ago after buying it in a deal worth $32bn.

It had agreed to sell Arm to rival US chip giant Nvidia but the plan was abandoned in February last year.

The sale had faced major regulatory hurdles in the UK, US and European Union.

Mr Haas said navigating political waters related to China was "challenging" but no different for Arm than any other tech company.