SoftBank's Arm IPO six times oversubscribed -sources

Illustration shows Arm Ltd logo

By Echo Wang and Anirban Sen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Arm Holdings Plc, the chip designer owned by SoftBank Group Corp that is seeking roughly $5 billion in its stock market debut, has seen investor demand that is six times the amount it is asking for, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

While the oversubscription does not guarantee a strong performance for Arm's blockbuster U.S. initial public offering (IPO), it makes it more likely that the company will at least reach its targeted price range of $47 to $51 per share, the sources said.

That price range values Arm at $50 billion to $54.5 billion on a fully diluted basis. This would represent a climb-down from the $64 billion valuation at which SoftBank last month acquired the 25% stake it did not already own in the company from the $100 billion Vision Fund it manages.

It remains unclear whether Arm will attract enough investor demand to seek a higher valuation ahead of its IPO pricing on Sept. 13. The sources said Arm will decide early next week whether to raise its IPO price range.

The sources requested anonymity because the matter is confidential. Arm declined to comment. The Financial Times reported earlier on Friday that the IPO was oversubscribed.

Arm launched its marketing efforts this week for what is set to become the largest U.S. IPO in two years, seeking to convince investors it has growth ahead of it, beyond the mobile phone market, which it dominates with a 99% share.

Weak mobile demand during a global economic slowdown has caused Arm's revenue to stagnate. Overall sales totaled $2.68 billion in the 12 months to the end of March, compared to $2.7 billion in the prior period.

Arm told potential investors in New York on Thursday that the cloud computing market, of which it has only a 10% share and therefore more room to expand, is expected to grow at an annual rate of 17% through 2025, partly thanks to advances in artificial intelligence. The automotive market, of which it commands 41%, is forecast to expand by 16%, compared with just 6% growth expected for the mobile market.

Arm also told investors its royalty fees, which account for most of its revenue, were accumulating since it started collecting them in the early 1990s. Royalty revenue came in at $1.68 billion at the latest fiscal year, up from $1.56 billion a year before.

An area of scrutiny for investors has been Arm's exposure to China, given geopolitical tensions with the United States that have led to a race to secure chip supplies. Sales in China contributed 24.5% of Arm's $2.68 billion revenue in fiscal 2023.

(Reporting by Echo Wang and Anirban Sen in New York; Editing by Greg Roumeliotis and Richard Chang)