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SoftBank reportedly selling 25% stake in ARM Holdings to Saudi-backed fund

Japan's SoftBank is reportedly selling a 25% stake in British chip designer ARM Holdings to its Saudi-backed technology fund just six months after snapping up the firm.

It is understood SoftBank is in talks to place the shareholding, worth around eight billion US dollars (£6.6 billion) into its 100 billion US dollar (£82.2 billion) Vision Fund, which is backed by a Saudi sovereign-wealth fund, as well as other investors such as Apple and Qualcomm Technologies.

SoftBank bought ARM in September after announcing the £24.3 billion swoop in a shock deal just weeks after the Brexit vote.

The stake sale would be the first major move by the Vision Fund, according to the Financial Times report, with SoftBank billionaire founder Masayoshi Son planning to use the fund to invest in key future technologies, such as sensors and artificial intelligence.

It is also thought that the stake sale will appease Vision investors, which wanted to own an interest in ARM.

Moving part of SoftBank's stake in ARM to the Vision Fund is seen as a move to secure investment from Abu Dhabi's state-backed investment group Mubadala.

The UK Government is believed to have been made aware of the stake sale, but is not thought to have raised concerns.

Downing Street and ARM both declined to comment, while SoftBank was not immediately available for comment.

SoftBank pledged to embark on a major recruitment drive, doubling ARM's 1,600-strong UK workforce, while keeping its headquarters in Cambridge as part of its assurances over the takeover.

ARM is widely regarded as the jewel in the crown of the UK technology sector, designing microchips for Apple iPhones, Samsung's Galaxy smartphones and Amazon's Kindle e-readers.

The group's research is expected to play a key role in the Vision Fund, with Mr Son looking to become a major global investor in technology.

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund has already committed to investing up to 45 billion US dollars (£37 billion) into the fund, while SoftBank is putting in around 25 billion US dollars (£20.6 billion).

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