The pledge could complicate any attempt to sell or float Arm. SoftBank has said it will re-list the company by 2023, but has recently engaged Goldman Sachs to explore options as it seeks to raise cash amid pressure from activist investors.
Arm’s hiring spree under SoftBank ownership has dramatically increased costs, meaning the company could find it more difficult to show a path to profits while it seeks new investment.
Analysts say it could command a $44bn (£35bn) valuation for the microchip firm if it floats ahead of schedule
Rolf Bulk, equity research analyst at New Street Research, claims the Cambridge firm stands to benefit from a return to public markets in 2021, with the current “ramp of 5G” set to drive demand for its chip designs suited to next-generation mobile technology.
“We wouldn’t be surprised to see an IPO brought forward from its original target date of 2023,” he said. “We expect Arm can grow profits 20-30pc per year versus 7-10pc for the broader semiconductor index. This difference justified an IPO at a valuation of $44bn.”
This month, The Telegraph reported that the former FTSE 100 company could be eyeing up the Nasdaq exchange in New York for a float, a venue that typically grants higher valuations to tech firms than London’s main board.
Arm is majority owned between SoftBank, with the company’s separate Vision Fund owning a 25pc stake. Both are under pressure to show returns on their investments, due to poor returns on investments in companies including WeWork and Uber. Activist investor Elliott Management has been pushing for SoftBank to return cash to shareholders.
Arm’s processor designs are used in every popular smartphone, and the company was recently boosted by the news that Apple will start to use Arm-based microchips in its laptops.