NVIDIA Wants Chip-Designer Arm But TSMC or Foxconn Could Interfere

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TSMC and Foxconn are both genuinely interested in picking up chip-design company Arm. That's according to recent reports indicating that Arm-owner SoftBank Group has been in contact with the two companies. At least two unnamed individuals reportedly close to the matter are said to have confirmed the interest.

For clarity, TSMC is the largest contract chipmaker in the world and Foxconn holds a similar position but in terms of electronics manufacturing. The former company builds chips for everybody from Samsung to Qualcomm. The latter has manufactured everything Apple smartphones to Sony and Nintendo game consoles.

Currently, reports indicate that there are several companies involved in discussions. And just about every major company seems to want to buy into the company or acquire it outright. In fact, even Apple and Samsung were, at one point, reportedly considering such a deal. Apple has purportedly since walked away from talks and Samsung responded to reports by calling them "groundless."

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Why does everybody want to snap up Arm?

Even without Samsung and Apple, that still leaves plenty of potential buyers at the table. And there's still plenty of reason for companies to want to purchase Arm. Not least of all, Arm is responsible for the designs used in as many as 90-percent of the world's mobile chipsets. That's setting aside other technologies that utilize those chipsets.

Among those claimed to still be participating are Qualcomm and NVIDIA. The latter company, in particular, is claimed to be in talks that are much further along and is said to be considering a complete buyout. Any deal between the two would almost certainly be valued at over $32 billion. That's the cost paid by SoftBank Group to buy Arm back in July 2016.

How serious are TSMC and Foxconn about Arm?

It isn't immediately clear how big a threat TSMC and Foxconn are to NVIDIA's talks though. While the two companies are said to have expressed interest, most details about any potential deal are being kept well under wraps. But they could present a relatively serious threat anyway.

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As noted above and by the unnamed sources, while NVIDIA wants to acquire Arm outright, TSMC may be more interested in what Arm appears to be looking for. Namely, that's a large buyout of Arm stake or a joint acquisition with other potential buyers.

It's unclear whether or not — or how seriously — either company is about an acquisition. But if TSMC or Foxconn do decide to take part in a deal, Arm could opt to go with either other company instead of NVIDIA.