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'Gossips' say Apple will acquire ARM

Financial people will talk

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London's financial district is "aflame" with rumors of a possible takeover of ARM by a company that only yesterday announced that it was sitting on a cash reserve of $41.7bn: Apple.

With that amount of liquidity sloshing around, such a takeover would be by no means unrealistic for Jobs & Co.

According to Wednesday's Evening Standard, The City's "gossips" are floating a rumor of Apple's interest in the UK chip designer.

And apparently many financial types feel there may be truth behind that gossip: the Standard reports that more than five million ARM shares changed hands on Wednesday, boosting the stock price by over 3 per cent and making it FTSE's biggest winner in the day's trading.

"A deal would make a lot of sense for Apple," one trader told the Standard. "That way, they could stop ARM's technology from ending up in everyone else's computers and gadgets."

Which would, shall we say, send shockwaves throughout the "computers and gadgets" industry.

Apple was recently reported to have bagged all or part of chip-designer Intrinsity, (one of) the alleged brains behind the A4 chip powering the iPad. Also, Cupertino acquired chipmaker PA Semi back in 2008, although word on the street is that many of the engineers that came along with that deal have moved on to their own start-up, Agnilux - which was just acquired by Google.

But those acquisitions would be small potatoes compared to an Apple acquisition of ARM. Although the Cambridge-based chipmaker's stock closed today at 251.1p, the Standard's sources are of the opinion that a takeover offer would be in the 500p per share range - which would place ARM's value at more than £5.2bn ($8bn).

That figure would amount to nearly 20 per cent of Apple's war chest - but the competitive advantage of acquiring ARM might very well make such an expenditure a long-term bargain.

After all, Apple is essentially minting money right now. Why not spend a good chunk of it to both enhance your chipmaking expertise and kneecap your competitors? ®

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