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SoftBank's Son says Nasdaq listing most likely for chip designer Arm

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·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: CEO of the SoftBank Group Masayoshi Son speaks at a new conference in London
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By Sam Nussey

TOKYO (Reuters) -SoftBank Group Corp's founder and Chief Executive Masayoshi Son on Friday reiterated the Japanese conglomerate was most likely to list British-based chip designer unit Arm on Nasdaq, while stressing no decision has been made.

"Most of Arm's clients are based in Silicon Valley and ... stock markets in the U.S. would love to have Arm," Son told shareholders at the company's annual general meeting.

Son said there were also requests to list Arm in London without elaborating on where they came from. The entrepreneur did not say whether the conglomerate is considering a secondary listing for Arm there.

The billionaire spent much of his presentation emphasising the business prospects for Arm, which the company has pivoted to listing following the collapse of an agreed sale to Nvidia.

The Cambridge-based firm was listed in Britain with a secondary listing in the United States prior to its acquisition by SoftBank in 2016 for $32 billion.

Arm is an important source of capital for SoftBank, which has borrowed $8 billion against the unit's shares, in addition to procuring $13.2 billion using shares in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd in prepaid forward contracts.

Son is under pressure from shareholders as valuations of the high-growth stocks he favours as investment targets fall and interest rates rise, with SoftBank's Vision Fund unit reporting a record loss in May.

SoftBank's shares have fallen by around a third since last year's annual general meeting. Son called on shareholders to take the long view on the company.

"Peaches and chestnuts take three years and persimmons take eight years, even fruit takes that long," Son said, quoting a Japanese proverb. "I'm confident if you wait five to 10 years there will be something delicious."

More than 40 years after founding the company, Son asserted his continuing fitness for his role as one of Japan's highest profile business leaders, joking that even if he can no longer drive as far on the golf course, he still isn't losing games.

"I'm still full of enthusiasm, confidence and dreams," the 64-year-old told shareholders.

"It's only my hair that's in retreat," Son said.

(Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)