[Updated, Correction] Arm China Goes Rogue In Hostile Takeover And Starts-Up As An Independent Company

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As if NVIDIA doesn't already have enough trouble trying to get its purchase of Arm to pass muster through numerous regulatory hurdles, a new challenge has emerged in China. Allen Wu, who serves as the CEO of Arm China, has quite literally "gone rogue."

Using his position of power at Arm China, Wu attempted to launch his own company called Alphatecture. In the lead-up to this incredibly troubling turn of events, Wu offered existing Arm China customers discounts if they would invest in Alphatecture. Not surprisingly, Arm China's board members found this behavior egregious and voted 7-1 to remove him. But as SemiAnalysis aptly points out, Wu owns the seal to the company which, in China, pretty much gives him full reign as the legal controlling partner of this Arm subsidiary.

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Arm China CEO Allen Wu

After pulling off what is essentially a coup, Wu hired his own security personnel to prevent Arm employees from entering the premises, and he then fired any dissenters. And in a turn of events that is sure to make your head spin, SemiAnalysis dropped this bombshell in its extensive reporting on the matter; "Allen Wu sued Arm China in order to declare his dismissal illegal," the publication writes. "He essentially sued himself as he represented both sides in that specific court case."

The company, operating under the name 科技 held an event where it hailed its "XPU" family, including NPU, GPU, ISP, and visual processing unit offerings for the IoT market.

Current Arm owner SoftBank found itself in this situation because it only owns 49 percent of Arm China, and the Chinese have a controlling 51 percent interest in the company. It was only a matter of time before things went sour, and it appears that the Chinese government's wish to foster homegrown computing solutions may have been a catalyst for this takeover.

Just as the U.S. Government has taken a firm stance on severing ties with "foreign" chip companies for sensitive projects, China is looking to do the same. However, the hijacking of Arm China is not exactly the most ethical way of going about things. With that said, Arm says that it is still cooperating with 安谋科技 to license new IP including powerful new ARMv9 instruction set. 

This sequence of events is all one big tangled mess that NVIDIA will have to deal with, should its Arm acquisition deal go through. NVIDIA would hold the reins to the most deployed processor architecture on the planet, and having a foothold in the expansive Chinese market was likely a linchpin in this plan.

Regardless, any deal that NVIDIA does end up perusing to make amends with 科技 will again have to pass regulatory approval from an already hesitant European Union and the United Kingdom. And that's not even taking into account pushback here at home from tech players that feel they could stand to lose influence if NVIDIA succeeds in purchasing Arm.

Updated 9/2/2021
The article has been updated to reflect new information brought to our attention by Arm. Arm also provided the following statement, "Arm continues to have a successful working relationship with the Arm China team in support of their growth, and both the structure and ownership of the JV remains unchanged since its inception in 2018."