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Nvidia reportedly to acquire ARM Holdings from SoftBank for $40 billion

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Components manufactured by ARM Holdings Plc sit inside a demonstration ARMmbed parking meter on display on the second day of Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain, on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. A theme this year at the industry's annual get-together, which runs through March 2, is the Internet of Things. Photographer: Pau Barrena/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Enlarge / Components manufactured by ARM Holdings Plc sit inside a demonstration ARMmbed parking meter on display on the second day of Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain, on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. A theme this year at the industry's annual get-together, which runs through March 2, is the Internet of Things. Photographer: Pau Barrena/Bloomberg via Getty Images (credit: Bloomberg | Getty Images)

SoftBank is set to sell the UK’s Arm Holdings to US chip company Nvidia for more than $40 billion, just four years after its founder Masayoshi Son bought the chip designer and said it would be the linchpin for the future of the Japanese technology group.

Multiple people with direct knowledge of the matter said a cash-and-stock takeover of Arm by Nvidia may be announced as soon as Monday, and that SoftBank will become the largest shareholder in the US chip company.

The announcement of the deal hinged on SoftBank ending a messy dispute between Arm and the head of its China joint venture, Allen Wu, who earlier rebuffed an attempt to remove him and claimed legal control of the unit.

Several people close to SoftBank said the matter was now “resolved,” though one person close to Mr Wu said he “remains the chairman of Arm China.” A spokesperson for Mr Wu declined to comment.

The takeover values Arm above the $32 billion price that SoftBank paid for the business in 2016, a deal that was struck weeks after the UK voted to leave the European Union and prompted critics including Arm’s founder to accuse the country of selling off the crown jewel of its tech sector.

While Nvidia is paying more for the asset than SoftBank did, the price also reflects the scale of Arm’s underperformance under the Japanese group’s ownership.

Nvidia had a market valuation of roughly similar to that of Arm’s at the time of the 2016 deal, but now trades with a market value of $300 billion, or roughly 10 times the amount SoftBank paid in cash for Arm. By paying for a large portion of the deals with its own shares, it is also passing part of the risk of the transaction to SoftBank.

For Nvidia, which recently overtook Intel to become the world’s most valuable chipmaker, the deal will further consolidate the US company’s position at the centre of the semiconductor industry. The British chip designer’s technology is starting to find broader applications beyond mobile devices, in data centres and personal computers including Apple’s Macs.

Arm would transform Nvidia’s product line-up, which until now has largely focused on the high end of the chips market. Its powerful graphics processors—which are designed to handle focused, data-intensive tasks—are typically sold to PC gamers, scientific researchers and developers of artificial intelligence and self-driving cars, as well as cryptocurrency miners.

To pave the way for the deal, SoftBank reversed an earlier decision to strip out an internet-of-things business from Arm and transfer it to a new company under its control. That would have stripped Arm of what was meant to be the high-growth engine that would power it into a 5G-connected future. One person said that SoftBank made the decision because it would have put it in conflict with commitments made to the U.K. over Arm, which were agreed at the time of the 2016 deal to appease the government.

SoftBank's Vision Fund previously held a stake in Nvidia, in a rare publicly listed investment for the $100 billion fund that focuses on private technology companies, but divested all of its shares early last year. Akshay Naheta, the 39-year old SoftBank executive who spearheaded that investment, has also been heavily involved in negotiations between the Japanese conglomerate and Nvidia.

The Vision Fund, which is run by Mr Naheta’s close ally and former colleague from Deutsche Bank, Rajeev Misra, controls a 25 per cent stake in Arm and will get compensated as part of the deal, another person added.

One person close to the talks said that Nvidia would make commitments to the UK government over Arm’s future in Britain, where opposition politicians have recently insisted that any potential deal must safeguard British jobs.

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported on the deal's imminent announcement.

Additional reporting by Ryan McMorrow in Beijing.

© 2020 The Financial Times Ltd. All rights reserved Not to be redistributed, copied, or modified in any way.

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smkelly
617 days ago
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This seems like it could strip away some industry neutrality and put the proliferation of ARM at risk.
Houston, TX
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Credit card skimmers now need to fear the Reaper

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Enlarge / The SkimReaper, shown here with a sample card-skimming device, can help law enforcement find and shut down card skimming operations. (credit: Sean Gallagher)

BALTIMORE—At the USENIX Security Symposium here today, University of Florida researcher Nolen Scaife presented the results of a research project he undertook with Christian Peeters and Patrick Traynor to effectively detect some types of "skimmers"—maliciously placed devices designed to surreptitiously capture the magnetic stripe data and PIN codes of debit and credit cards as they are inserted into automated teller machines and point-of-sale systems. The researchers developed SkimReaper, a device that can sense when multiple read heads are present—a telltale sign of the presence of a skimmer.

Nolen and his fellow researchers worked with data provided by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) to assess the types of credit-card-skimming gear currently in the wild. They uncovered four broad categories of skimming gear:

  • Overlays—devices that get placed on top of the slot for the ATM or point-of-sale system. They can be modeled to match a specific ATM type's card slot or, in some cases, overlay an entire device such as a credit card reader at a retail point of sale. Overlays on ATM machines are sometimes accompanied by a keypad that is placed atop the actual keypad to collect PIN data.
  • Deep inserts—skimmers engineered to be jammed deep into the card reader slots themselves. They're thin enough to fit under the card as it is inserted or drawn in to be read. An emerging version of this is a "smart chip" skimmer that reads EMV transactions passively, squeezed between the card slot and the EMV sensor.
  • Wiretap skimmers—devices that get installed between a terminal and the network they connect to. This suggests there's a fundamental security problem to begin with.
  • Internal skimmers—devices installed in-line between the card reader of a terminal and the rest of its hardware. These, Scaife said, are more common in gas-pump card readers, where the attacker has a greater chance of being able to gain access to the internals without being discovered.

Overlays and deep inserts are by far the most common types of skimmers—and are increasingly difficult to detect. Police, Scaife noted, often find them only by looking for the cameras used by skimmers to capture PIN numbers, because most of the common detection tips—including trying to shake the card slot to see if it dislodges—are ineffective.

SkimReaper is aimed specifically at overlays and inserts. It uses a card-shaped sensor with a printed circuit that, when powered, can detect the voltage spikes created by coming in contact with magnetic reader heads. If it detects two or more, there's a skimmer in play.

Testing against skimmers collected by the NYPD, the SkimReaper yielded a 100-percent detection rate. The NYPD has adopted SkimReaper and has already discovered one skimmer in the wild with the device; another seven police departments have also signed on for the SkimReaper, and Scaife says that demand exceeds his team's ability to manufacture them.

But the payoff is huge in terms of damage to skimming operators. Card-skimming devices are costly and custom-manufactured for each type of targeted machine, and stopping and retrieving a skimmer can put a serious dent in the skimmer's profits. Detection in place also offers law enforcement an opportunity to catch the skimmer or an accomplice in the act of trying to remove the device after data is collected.

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smkelly
1375 days ago
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This is cool. The arms race continues.
Houston, TX
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Ajit Pai jokes with Verizon exec about him being a “puppet” FCC chair

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai at Fox Studios on November 10, 2017 in New York City. (credit: Getty Images | John Lamparski )

On Thursday night in Washington, DC, net neutrality advocates gathered outside the annual Federal Communications Commission Chairman's Dinner to protest Chairman Ajit Pai's impending rollback of net neutrality rules.

Inside the dinner (also known as the "telecom prom") at the Washington Hilton, Pai entertained the audience with jokes about him being a puppet installed by Verizon to lead the FCC.

Pai was a Verizon associate general counsel from 2001 to 2003, and next week he will lead an FCC vote to eliminate net neutrality rules—just as Verizon and other ISPs have asked him to.

At the dinner, Pai played a satirical video that showed him planning his ascension to the FCC chairmanship with a Verizon executive in 2003. The Verizon executive was apparently Kathleen Grillo, a senior VP and deputy general counsel in the company's public policy and government affairs division.

The speech was apparently not supposed to be public, but Gizmodo obtained footage of Pai's remarks and the skit. You can watch it here.

Brainwashing a Verizon puppet

Pai introduced the Verizon skit with these remarks:

In collusion, I mean conclusion... sorry, Freudian slip, my bad. Many people are still shell-shocked that I'm up here tonight [as chairman]. They ask themselves, "How on Earth did this happen?" Well, moments before tonight's dinner, somebody leaked a 14-year-old video that helps answer that question, and in all candor I can no longer hide from the truth.

The video then rolled. Here's a transcript:

Verizon executive: "As you know, the FCC is captured by industry. But we think it's not captured enough. We want to brainwash and groom a Verizon puppet to install as FCC chairman. Think Manchurian Candidate."

Ajit Pai: "That sounds awesome."

Verizon executive: "I know, right? There are only two problems. First, this is going to take 14 years to incubate. We need to find someone smart, young, ambitious, but dorky enough to throw the scent off."

Ajit Pai: "Hello."

Verizon executive: "So you will do it?"

Ajit Pai: "Absolutely. But you said there was another issue?"

Verizon executive: We need to find a Republican who can win the presidency in 2016 to appoint you FCC chairman. I think our best bet is an outsider, but I have no idea who that would be. If only somebody can give us a sign.

At that point in the video, a picture of Donald Trump appeared.

"And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I became chairman of the FCC," Pai told the audience, to laughs and applause.

The annual dinner is hosted by the Federal Communications Bar Association, a group of telecom attorneys and other communications industry professionals.

“Can’t wait for those fast lanes”

Pai also joked about the FCC re-locating to Trump Tower and the paid fast lanes that ISPs will be able to sell to online services after the net neutrality repeal. Noting that he recently toured parts of America in rental cars, Pai said, "can't wait for those fast lanes."

Pai also poked fun at Democrats' claims that he has shown favoritism toward Sinclair, a broadcast station owner that is trying to buy the Tribune Media Company.

"People ask me, 'what keeps you up at night?' and it's actually pretty easy: the thought of the FCC having to resolve a retransmission dispute between Verizon and Sinclair," Pai said. "I mean, how do you choose between a longtime love and your newfound crush?"

Footage of Pai's speech leaking to the press is perhaps not surprising given one of the remarks he made. Saying he wanted to provide advice to the FCC's Democratic minority, Pai said his first tip is to "Leak frequently. You can't set the commission's agenda, but you can set Comm Daily's."

Pai also spoke about his plans to eliminate net neutrality rules at an event at Verizon's DC office on Tuesday, referring to the rules as "so-called 'net neutrality.'” The FCC's net neutrality repeal vote is scheduled for December 14.

Here's a look at the protest that happened outside the Chairman's Dinner:

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smkelly
1625 days ago
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I like humor and all, but this just seems incredibly tone-deaf and inappropriate given his position.
Houston, TX
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Sprint/T-Mobile merger is off, preserving wireless competition (for now)

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Enlarge (credit: Mike Mozart)

The on-again, off-again merger of Sprint and T-Mobile USA is apparently off again—for now.

Sprint owner SoftBank is "abandoning its efforts" to merge the carrier with T-Mobile, The Wall Street Journal reported today while quoting "people familiar with the matter." A month ago, reports indicated that a merger would be announced by the end of October and that T-Mobile majority owner Deutsche Telekom would emerge with a majority stake in the combined company.

But SoftBank's board met this past weekend "and expressed concern about giving up control," the Journal wrote today. "Instead of a merger, Sprint plans to make a significant investment in its network," the Journal report also said.

Together, T-Mobile and Sprint would rival Verizon Wireless and AT&T in size. But a merger would leave the US with three nationwide wireless carriers instead of the current four.

T-Mobile has done well as an independent the past few years, and consumers have benefited. T-Mobile's embrace of unlimited data plans pushed the other carriers to make similar offers, helping customers avoid data overage fees that can quickly drive up a monthly bill. Wireless data prices have been falling.

Sprint abandoned a bid for T-Mobile in 2014 when it became clear that the Obama administration would block it in order to preserve the existing levels of competition. Negotiations have heated up since Donald Trump became president, as the new administration is expected to allow more big mergers than its predecessor.

Sprint/T-Mobile merger rumors never seem to die completely, so we wouldn't be surprised if the companies hold more merger talks in the future. We contacted Sprint and SoftBank about today's report and will provide an update if we get one.

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smkelly
1665 days ago
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Maybe they saw my #HR4HR tweet asking for RT if you're opposed. Yay competition!
Houston, TX
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Nightmare fuel: Trapped in airplane seat crawling with bedbugs

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Enlarge / Bed bug feeding on human skin. (credit: Getty | VW Pics)

British Airways has apologized to a Canadian family who reported being feasted upon by a pack of bedbugs during an overnight flight from Vancouver to London earlier this month, CTV Vancouver reported.

Passenger Heather Szilagyi was flying with her fiancé and eight-year-old daughter when she says she spotted several of the bugs on the seat in front of her. Szilagyi said that as someone who had worked in the hotel industry, she was primed to identify them. But when she flagged the flight attendant and asked to be moved, she got no help.

“She was like, 'Oh ok, sorry about that. We're sold out. We don't have anywhere to move you',” Szilagyi told CTV.

After the nine-hour flight, she said her and her daughter were covered with bug bites.

Szilagyi said she tried contacting costumer service about the problem, but after many attempts, she only got a recorded message saying that the line was busy. So she took to Twitter to post pictures of the bites.

British Airways reached out a few days later, offering an apology and an upgraded return flight.

In a statement, the airline said:

We have been in touch with our customer to apologize and investigate further. British Airways operates more than 280,000 flights every year, and reports of bedbugs on board are extremely rare. Nevertheless, we are vigilant and continually monitor our aircraft.

Szilagyi said that wasn’t exactly what she was after. “All we were asking for was a flight on a different plane, to make sure it was a different plane [and] to make sure that the plane that was infested with bedbugs was taken care of,” she said.

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smkelly
1676 days ago
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This is sort of terrifying. I hadn't even considered this being a thing.
Houston, TX
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Judge wants to know if Allergan’s tribal patent deal is a “sham”

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Enlarge / CEO of Allergan Brenton Saunders addresses employees at a production site in Pringy, France. (credit: JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP/Getty Images)

Last month, the drug company Allergan made news for a deal in which it gave six of its patents to a Native American tribe in order to avoid a patent review process called inter partes review, or IPR.

The six patents protect the blockbuster drug Restasis, a treatment for dry eyes which earns $1.5 billion in annual revenue. Generic drug companies have challenged the Restasis patents, through both IPRs and federal court litigation. Allergan agreed to pay the St. Regis Mohawk tribe $15 million annually as long as the patents are alive, because the company believes that the tribe will be immune to IPR under a legal principle known as sovereign immunity.

Allergan's tactic has come under fire from the tech sector, from Congress, and perhaps soon, from a federal judge.

Meet our new co-plaintiff

The Restasis patents were the subject of a federal lawsuit long before Allergan made a deal with the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe. Both Teva Pharmaceuticals and Mylan Pharmaceuticals filed applications challenging Allergan patents back in 2015, announcing their intention of making generic versions of the drug. Teva and Mylan were promptly sued (PDF) by Allergan the following month in the Eastern District of Texas.

The legal battle between Allergan, Teva, Mylan, and two other generic drugmakers came to a head in August 2017, when a week-long bench trial was overseen by US Circuit Judge William Bryson. (Bryson, an appeals court judge at the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, was sitting by designation in the Eastern District; this is a common practice for appeals judges to gain trial experience.) Final briefs were filed in the case on Sept. 20, and Bryson has yet to render a decision about whether or not Allergan's patents are valid and infringed.

On Sept. 8, the same day that Allergan made its deal with the St. Regis tribe public, it filed a letter (PDF) in Bryson's court telling the judge what had happened. The letter, by Allegan's outside counsel at Fish & Richardson, reads:

Dear Judge Bryson,

This morning, Allergan assigned its rights in a number of patents, including the patents-in-suit, to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe. Allergan now has an exclusive license to the patents-in-suit. Allergan does not anticipate that this assignment will have any impact on the litigation or the issues before the Court, other than it expects to join the Tribe as a co-plaintiff in due course. If the Court has any questions or concerns, we are available to discuss them at the Court’s convenience.

Turns out Bryson has a lot of questions about the deal. On Friday, he published an order noting that the Tribe still hasn't filed a motion to join the case, even though it's been a month since Allergan revealed the deal.

"The time for the Court to issue its findings of fact and conclusions of law in this case is forthcoming, and the Court needs to know whether the Tribe should be a co-plaintiff or not," wrote Bryson.

The judge ordered Allergan to provide all documents relating to the patent assignment and ordered both sides to file briefs addressing the question of "whether the Tribe should be joined as a co-plaintiff in this action, or whether the assignment of the patents to the Tribe should be disregarded as a sham."

Those briefs are due this Friday, October 13. In a brief (PDF) filed Monday, Allergan has said it will make its argument to bring the St. Regis tribe into the case as a plaintiff by that date. The drug company also argues that it shouldn't get dragged into additional discovery on this side issue.

"Defendants assert that Allergan's assignment of the patents-in-suit to the Tribe is a 'sham,' but have provided no authority or other basis to support this assertion," write Allergan lawyers. They argue that the whole issue of the tribe's sovereign immunity isn't relevant to the lawsuit in any case, since "the Tribe will not be asserting sovereign immunity in this case."

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smkelly
1685 days ago
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This is ridiculous. We need both patent and drug reform.
Houston, TX
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