107340933 1701290110971 Gettyimages 1820914123 S1 9828 Pfnpamyl.jpeg

FTC Chair Lina Khan Takes Victory Lap on Blocking Nvidia-Arm Merger

Federal Trade Commission Lina Khan speaks during the New York Times annual DealBook summit on November 29, 2023 in New York City. 

Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Kahn cited the surging stock prices of Nvidia and Arm as an example of how blocking mergers can lead to increased innovation.

Speaking at a Bloomberg and Y Combinator conference on Tuesday, Kahn said that when the $40 billion merger was called off due to “significant regulatory challenges” in 2022, it forced both companies to innovate and create new products.

The remarks suggest Kahn and the FTC see the blocked Nvidia deal, which Kahn said would have been “the largest semiconductor chip merger in history,” as an example of a successful antitrust action that doesn’t hamper companies from pursuing financial success or embracing new technologies like artificial intelligence.

“The trajectories of both companies in the wake of this action has illustrated how organic growth and competition can spur firms to further innovate in ways that benefit the business and public alike,” Kahn said at the conference.

The evidence, Kahn said, is in the company stock prices.

“Not only has Nvidia remained the leading AI chip maker in the AI chip arms race, with a surging stock valuation, but Arm ended up going public and has a forward earnings multiple that is more than double Nvidia’s,” Kahn said.

In September 2020, Nvidia announced plans to acquire Arm for $40 billion in cash and stock. Both firms hailed the deal as a way to create the premier computing company for the “age of AI.

But the acquisition quickly met resistance from regulators in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Arm’s core technology, its instruction set architecture, is used by companies like Apple, Google, and Qualcomm to build processors. Arm is often described as a “neutral supplier” that doesn’t compete with its customers.

Those companies and regulators worried that Nvidia could control access to Arm’s architecture, giving it the power to foreclose access to a key input needed to make their chips. Nvidia said it would invest in Arm and allow other companies continued use of Arm’s chip designs, preserving the company’s licensing model.

The FTC sued in late 2021 to block the merger, and in combination with pressure with other regulatory challenges, the deal collapsed less than three months later.

“Our team determined that giving one of the largest chip companies control over the computing technology and designs that rival firms rely on to develop their own competing chips would be bad for competition and hamstring innovation of next-generation technology,” Kahn said on Tuesday.

Nvidia shares have rocketed since the deal was called off as the company has established a leading position in artificial intelligence chips. Nvidia’s value has nearly tripled mostly on the strength of sales of its AI chips for servers such as the A100 and H100. It’s now worth just under $2 trillion, the third-most valuable U.S. company.

Arm stock has more than doubled since the company went public in August 2023, although SoftBank still owns 90% of the company’s shares. Investors have bid up its share price in the hope that its technology will be essential for developing and deploying AI software. Arm is now worth over $143 billion, and, as Kahn noted, investors have given the company a high earnings multiple, suggesting that they see strong growth in the company’s future.

A representative for Nvidia declined to comment. A representative for Arm didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Source link

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *