这笔收购势必会引发重大的影响，是利是害，已可见端倪。为此，Arm的创始人Hermann Hauser（赫尔曼豪泽尔，赫尔曼豪瑟），给英国首相发了一封公开信，希望英国政府阻止这场收购。这封信在网站www.savearm.co.uk上面可以看到，还可以签名反对这次收购。从名字就能看出来，Save Arm，拯救Arm，不要落入别人手里。嗯，这有点像Saving Private Ryan，拯救大兵瑞恩。
Image credit: Hermann Hauser, amadeuscapital.com
Hermann Hauser认为最大的影响是美国OFAC法规（US OFAC regulations）。这次出售将影响数百家英国电子行业公司、数以万计产品中使用了ARM的人。这些产品出口到全球各地，但从此之后却都必须遵守美国OFAC法规。也就是说，产品卖给谁不卖给谁，白宫说了算，而不是唐宁街。这个影响就大了。
Co-Sign an open letter from Hermann Hauser cofounder of Arm to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Dear Prime Minister,
As one of the founders of Arm I am extremely concerned about the proposed sale of Arm to Nvidia. This concern is shared by many of my colleagues in Cambridge, the UK financial and electronics industry who are all co-signing this letter.
Firstly, we are concerned about the impact on jobs in Cambridge, Manchester, Belfast, Glasgow, Sheffield and Warwick where thousands of Arm employees work. When the headquarters move to the US this will inevitably lead to the loss of jobs and influence in the UK as we have seen with the Cadbury takeover by Kraft.
Secondly, the sale of Arm to Nvidia will destroy the very basis of Arm’s business model which is to be the Switzerland of the semiconductor industry dealing in an even-handed way with its over 500 licensees. Most of them are Nvidia’s competitors. Among them are many UK companies. Assurances to the contrary should be legally binding.
Thirdly, and most importantly for the long term, it is an issue of national economic sovereignty:
Arm is the only remaining UK technology company, with a dominant position in mobile phone microprocessors. It has a market share of over 95%. The UK has suffered from American technology dominance by companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Apple and others. As the American president has weaponised technology dominance in his trade war with China, the UK will become collateral damage unless it has its own trade weapons to bargain with. Arm powers the smartphones of Apple, Samsung, Sony, Huawei and practically every other brand in the world and therefore can exert influence on all of them.
A sale to Nvidia will mean that Arm becomes subject to the US OFAC regulations. There are hundreds of companies in the UK electronics industry employing tens of thousands of people who use ARMs in their products. Many of them export to major global markets including China. They will all have to comply with the US OFAC regulations.
This puts Britain in the invidious position that the decision about who Arm is allowed to sell to will be made in the White House and not in Downing Street.
Sovereignty used to be mainly a geographic issue, but now economic sovereignty is equally important. Surrendering UK’s most powerful trade weapon to the US is making Britain a US vassal state.
There are three conditions that are imperative for this deal to be allowed to go through.
They all have to be legally binding or they are useless:
Legally binding job guarantees for Arm employees in the UK
Legally binding agreement that Nvidia must not gain any preferential treatment over other Arm licensees.
Britain must get an exemption from the US OFAC regulation so that UK companies are guaranteed unfettered access to our own microprocessor technology.
The natural alternative to an Arm sale to Nvidia is to take Arm public on the London Stock Exchange and make it a British owned company again with a Golden Share for national economic security. As you have spent £500m to help OneWeb out of Chapter 11, which arguably is not as important to Britain as Arm, you could spend £1-2bn as the anchor investor for an IPO on the London Stock Exchange and get a Golden Share for it so that this problem cannot happen again. An IPO was always the declared route to liquidity for Softbank.
If you do not make Arm a British owned company again with a Golden Share for national economic security, history will remember you as the person who, when the chips are down, failed to act in the national interest.
Dr Hermann Hauser FRS, KBE