SoftBank likely to list UK's Arm on Nasdaq, Masayoshi Son says

The Japanese conglomerate has yet to make a final decision, but prefers US listing as most of chip designer's clients are based in Silicon Valley

An ARM and SoftBank branded board displayed at a news conference in London. Reuters
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SoftBank Group's founder and chief executive Masayoshi Son on Friday reiterated the Japanese conglomerate is most likely to list British-based chip designer unit Arm on Nasdaq, while stressing no decision has been made.

"Most of Arm's clients are based in Silicon Valley and ... stock markets in the US would love to have Arm," Mr Son told shareholders at the company's annual general meeting.

There were also requests to list Arm in London, he said without elaborating on where they came from. The entrepreneur did not say whether the SoftBank is considering a secondary listing for Arm there.

The billionaire spent much of his presentation emphasising the business prospects for Arm, which the company has pivoted to listing following the collapse of an agreed sale to Nvidia.

The Cambridge-based company was listed in Britain with a secondary listing in the US prior to its acquisition by SoftBank in 2016 for $32bn.

Arm is an important source of capital for SoftBank, which has borrowed $8bn against the unit's shares, in addition to procuring $13.2bn using shares in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba in prepaid forward contracts.

Mr Son is under pressure from shareholders as valuations of the high-growth stocks he favours as investment targets fall and interest rates rise, with SoftBank's Vision Fund unit reporting a record loss in May.

SoftBank's shares have fallen by around a third since last year's annual general meeting. Mr Son called on shareholders to take the long view on the company.

"Peaches and chestnuts take three years and persimmons take eight years, even fruit takes that long," Mr Son said, quoting a Japanese proverb. "I'm confident if you wait five to 10 years there will be something delicious."

More than 40 years after founding the company, Mr Son asserted his continuing fitness for his role as one of Japan's highest profile business leaders, joking that even if he can no longer drive far on the golf course, he still isn't losing games.

"I'm still full of enthusiasm, confidence and dreams," the 64-year-old told shareholders.

"It's only my hair that's in retreat," Mr Son said.

Updated: June 24, 2022, 6:30 AM