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Brexit, weaker pound didn’t influence $32 billion bid for ARM: Softbank CEO

Brexit and the devaluation of the pound against the yen did not influence the timing of Softbank's $32 billion bid for U.K. semiconductor giant ARM Holdings, the Japanese firm's chief executive said on Monday.

Softbank agreed to acquire ARMfor £17 ($22.52) per share dollar conversion, a 43 percent premium on Friday's closing price, in an all-cash deal.

After Britain voted to leave the European Union on June 23, the value of the pound plummeted, particularly against the yen. This would have made it cheaper for a Japanese firm such as Softbank to buy a British company. But Masayoshi Son, chairman and chief executive of SoftBank, said that while the value of the pound has fallen, ARM's share price has increased.

Masayoshi Son, CEO of SoftBank.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Masayoshi Son, CEO of SoftBank.

The pound has fallen about 12 percent against the yen between June 24 and today, while ARM's share price has risen about 16 percent from June 24 to Friday's close.

Masayoshi Son said the decision to acquire ARM was about taking advantage of the "paradigm shift" he sees in the internet of things (IoT).

"I did not make the investment because of Brexit. I decided for the viewing the paradigm shift as the opportunity, this is the beginning of IoT. I would have made this decision at this time regardless if Brexit happened or did not happen," Masayoshi Son told reporters at a press conference on Monday.

"It's not opportunistic about the currency ... the reasoning is I got the money finally now I did not have the money to invest ... I was waiting for the cash to come in hand," he added.

Softbank has been selling off its assets to raise cash. Last month, Tencent acquired Softbank's majority stake in "Clash of Clans" maker Supercell for $8.6 billion. Softbank has also sold some of its shares in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba which has allowed it to raise around $10 billion.

Masayoshi Son did however say that he only met with ARM's chairman two weeks ago in order to make an approach. The Softbank CEO is travelling to Cambridge, U.K, Monday to meet ARM's senior management team. This morning, Masayoshi Son met the U.K.'s new Finance Minister Philip Hammond and spoke to Prime Minister Theresa May after agreeing the deal with ARM.

Softbank's chairman said he already hears "strong support" for this investment and has promised double the employee headcount in the U.K. over the next five years. The company is looking for a way to make this "legally binding" so that a court could take legal action if Softbank does not live up to its promise.

"We did not need to do this, it's my way of showing commitment to the UK," Masayoshi Son said.

While he insists the ARM deal was not influenced by a weaker pound, Masayoshi Son did say that the U.K. has attractive start-ups and a cooling in valuations of these could be an attractive buying opportunities.

"There are many companies, very good valuable companies in the U.K. and so this ... reduced price in companies because of the situation ... could be a good opportunity for many other people who might be interested in the U.K. and our investment may show as confidence to them," Masayoshi Son said, adding that he hopes to invest further in Britain though there are no plans this year for more acquisitions.