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Thursday, April 22, 2010, 12:45 pm PT (03:45 pm ET)

ARM CEO downplays rumors of Apple acquisition

Following a rumor that Apple is looking to buy chipmaker ARM Holdings, the CEO of the Cambridge, England firm said he doesn't see what the benefit would be.

Warren East, chief executive of ARM, told The Guardian that he doesn't see a reason for Apple — or anyone — to pay a large sum of money to acquire ARM when they can continue to license the company's processor reference designs for much cheaper.

"Exciting though it is to have the share price pushed up by these rumours, common sense tells us that our standard business model is an excellent way for technology companies to gain access to our technology," East reportedly said. "Nobody has to buy the company."

Shares of ARM went up 3.4 percent following the rumors of an Apple acquisition. The company traded at its highest value since April 2002.

Though East's comments didn't specifically deny the rumors of an Apple acquisition, The Guardian took them as the executive's attempt to "pour cold water" on a potential purchase.

The rumor surfaced on Wednesday that Apple is interested in purchasing ARM Holdings, the company that licenses a majority of the world's mobile chip designs. Processors in Apple's iPhone, iPod touch and iPad are all based on reference designs licensed from ARM.

Apple has been a licensee of the ARM architecture for years. In 2008, the Cupertino, Calif., company purchased fabless chip designer P.A. Semi for $278 million.

And this year, Apple's first custom-built ARM processor surfaced in the iPad, in the form of the 1GHz A4 chip. Apple is also rumored to have purchased chip designer Intrinsity to help design and speed up the A4 processor, based on the Cortex A8 reference design.