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Heads of Samsung, SoftBank meet in Seoul

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong is seen entering a district court in Seoul over his alleged involvement in a 2015 merger of Samsung’s key affiliates on Thursday. (Yonhap)

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong and SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son held talks on Tuesday over ways for a strategic alliance between the chips-to-mobile giant and SoftBank-backed chip intellectual property giant Arm, according to industry sources on Wednesday.

The meeting at Samsung Electronics’ Seoul office was also accompanied by Samsung’s co-CEO Kyung Kye-hyun, who oversees semiconductor business, and mobile business chief Roh Tae-moon, as well as Arm CEO Rene Hass.

A Samsung Electronics spokesperson declined to comment on the meeting.

The news comes a few days after the Japanese business tycoon arrived in Seoul on Saturday in his first overseas trip since the COVID-19 outbreak.

Son’s trip was first revealed earlier by Lee, as he returned to Seoul on Sept. 21 after a trip to Mexico, Panama, Canada and the United Kingdom. Lee told reporters that Son “might come up with such a proposal” regarding Arm, but did not elaborate on the agenda for talks.

Although SoftBank’s Son later confirmed that the meeting would revolve around Samsung’s “strategic alliance with Arm,” there were local speculations that a stake sale of Arm to Samsung could be in the works, given that Samsung sits on nearly 120 trillion won ($84.7 billion) of cash.

Samsung has been considered one of the likely participants in a consortium model for the Arm acquisition, should Arm choose not to go public.

Arm is jointly controlled by SoftBank and its investment arm SoftBank Vision Fund. The company is seeking to go public as SoftBank looks to float its holdings in Arm, a chip powerhouse that is behind the design of over 90 percent of the world’s mobile processors.

SoftBank in 2016 purchased Arm’s controlling stake for $31 billion. Its $40 billion deal with US graphic processor giant Nvidia collapsed earlier this year.

By Son Ji-hyoung ([email protected])

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