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SoftBank considering sale or IPO of chip design company Arm Holdings

Credit: Arm Holdings

Amid the early stages of Apple's transition to ARM-based silicon, SoftBank is reportedly mulling a sale or public offering of Arm Holdings.

Arm Holdings is the company that designs and licenses the base ARM architecture used in Apple chips like the A12Z Bionic. It is also wholly owned by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, but that may not be the case forever.

According to a new report in The Wall Street Journal, SoftBank is looking at alternatives like a full or partial sale or an initial public offering (IPO) of the chip design company.

The Japanese company, with Goldman Sachs acting as an advisor, is still in the early stages of the exploration. It isn't clear how the plans will pan out, and it's possible that SoftBank will choose to do nothing.

Apple licenses chip architecture technology from Arm Holdings for its proprietary A-series chips, which power iPhones and iPads. Since WWDC 2020, it's also clear that Apple plans to transition its Mac lineup to first-party, ARM-based chips within the next few years.

Well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts that the first Mac with an A-series chip could be a 13-inch MacBook Pro in late 2020, followed by a MacBook Air in late 2020 or early 2021.

The sale or IPO of Arm Holdings isn't likely to significant impact Apple, though the company could be interested in acquiring the chip design firm. Speculation that Apple could buy Arm Holdings has been circulating for at least a decade.