The Arm deal revealed gaps in the UK’s industrial strategy (“Arm Wrestling Reveals the UK’s Industrial Policy Gap”, FT View, Sept. 7), but when trying to defend a strategic technology company from overseas acquisitions, the UK is foreign-owned. Re-evaluate the law on.
Whether or not Arm is acquired by Nvidia, its uncertain future should realize that the UK recognizes that some technologies are of great importance nationally and that such sales need to be scrutinized further.
Some of the UK’s most successful companies to date have been acquired by foreign acquirers with huge funds. Sometimes our smartest and best people get younger as they try to make a world-changing influence like a deep mind. Others are like Arms that are already strategic with designs used on billions of chips in almost all smartphones. In fact, my company, Autonomy, was acquired by HP in a transaction that continues to sue.
It’s time to admit that we’ve gotten too close to the crown jewel. By allowing Arm to sell, the U.S. will have the edge as the Internet of Things enters the mainstream powered by 5G.
The UK government, like its transatlantic and European partners, must strictly defend its future interests. In the US, for example, the US Foreign Investment Commission (Cfius) was able to scrutinize and block offshore buyers.
The UK government could intervene in sales that threaten national security, but a wider range of mechanisms is lacking. For example, in 2017, Cfius blocked the acquisition of the U.S. semiconductor group of Canyon Bridge, a Chinese investment firm that could acquire Imagination Technologies in the UK.
While it’s important to be open and encourage foreign investment, you need to do more to protect your most important technology assets.
After Brexit, we move faster, act bravely, and have the freedom to write new regulatory frameworks that will keep companies like Arm out of the UK and enable innovation. Indeed, our sovereignty depends on it.
Mike Lynch Technology Entrepreneur and Founder Invoke CapitalLondon WC2, UK
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