Though Brexit has many in Europe worried about the economy, some, like KKR co-founder Henry Kravis, see the current economic whirlwind as the opportunity to make big deals.
Japan’s SoftBank is certainly living up to this unusual prediction. SoftBank will likely be purchasing British chip designer ARM. ARM provides the power behind just about every smartphone out there, including the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy. SoftBank will pay $32 billion for the chance to get ahead of the technology curve.
Within three months of the official announcement that England will be leaving the European Union, SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son swooped in to purchase ARM, which he said he had been considering for the past ten years. He has said he intends to keep top ARM managers and increase the number of jobs available.
With the current uncertainty around the British economy continuing, a big deal like this could be just what the country needs to stay on course. At the very least, it could lay to rest the concern that foreign investment will stagnate moving forward. This is because ARM is believed to be “safe” from the economic fallout of Brexit, since the technology it creates is used all over the world, not just in Britain.
This deal would be the first large-scale, cross-border transaction since the announcement of Brexit. It would also be one of the largest acquisition ever for SoftBank.
While the purchase could spell good news for European investors, it might be a death toll for Americans who invested in SoftBank’s last venture—the $22 billion purchase of 80% of Sprint.
Sprint has been struggling with debt and hoping to increase its cash flow this year. With Softbank’s ARM deal, however, funds that were expected by investors to go toward strengthening Sprint are no longer available. This “leaves the company with fewer resources for strategic activity in the US,” noted telecom analyst Jonathan Chaplin of New Street Research.
Son isn’t concerned, though; he believes both ARM and Sprint are on course to grow. “I have much more confidence in Sprint right now,” he said, noting that Sprint’s problems are a thing of the past.
In any event, the ARM deal proves that big deals are still possible in a post-Brexit Britain. How these deals will affect the rest of the world, however, remains to be seen.