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Nvidia’s ARM deal hits another stumbling block as EU pauses investigation

Nvidia’s proposed acquisition of chip giant ARM is already facing an uphill battle following a recent FTC lawsuit. To make matters worse for the GPU manufacturer, EU regulators have now paused their investigation into the deal.

The European Commission was originally scheduled to complete its investigation on November 25. However, according to a filing spotted by Reuters, the regulatory body has halted that deadline for the time being.

ARM Chip

Reuters notes the decision follows a trend of delays affecting organizations because of staff shortages and lockdown restrictions due to the pandemic.

In any case, if recent developments surrounding the deal are any indication, the EU’s investigation — upon its eventual completion — could ultimately block the acquisition.

EU antitrust regulators had launched the comprehensive investigation into the deal in October. They stressed that it could lead to prices being increased, less choice, and stifled innovation.

The European Commission is not the only regulatory agency to probe the deal. In addition to the FTC, Britain’s competition agency CMA is also reviewing Nvidia’s planned bid in acquiring ARM, as the semiconductor company is situated within the UK. The agency believes it will damage competition and weaken rivals as well.

The chief concern surrounding the deal, which is valued at $40 billion, is the ripple effect it’ll have on the technology industry. In particular, the merger could result in some considerable ramifications for Nvidia’s rivals. Britain’s competition regulator believes if the takeover were to materialize, it could reduce competition in key industries such as gaming, data centers, automotive, and the internet of things.

Andrea Coscelli, head of Competition and Markets Authority for the U.K. regulator, highlighted how Nvidia controlling ARM could result in the former limiting access to key technologies for its rivals.

As opposed to creating and selling physical products like CPUs and chipsets, ARM’s business model involves licensing its technology. Apple is one of the company’s largest licensees, with the firm incorporating ARM-based chips into flagship devices like the iPhone and iPad. Recent Macs have transitioned away from Intel’s processors in favor of ARM silicon.

It’s difficult to see how Nvidia can overcome the intense scrutiny from several regulatory bodies, which is predominantly related to ARM’s position as a neutral supplier being put in jeopardy. The deal, if it were to go through eventually, would culminate in the largest semiconductor merger ever.

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