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The City needs an energy boost after losing Arm

London Skyline (AFP via Getty Images)
London Skyline (AFP via Getty Images)

Arm Holdings is arguably the most important company created in Britain in the past half a century. Yet it is far from a household name.

Arm emerged in the early 1990s from the wreckage of Acorn Computers, once rather fancifully described as the “British Apple.”

But while Acorn has long been largely forgotten by all except hardcore computer geeks, Arm lives on... and thrives as a world leader in one of the modern world’s most important industries.

Its semiconductor chips are said to be in around 95% of all smartphones worldwide. Its technology is also found is a huge proportion of other everyday electronic devices from digital TVs to drones. It is a true national champion.

The company has not been British owned since it was bought by Japan’s SoftBank in 2016, but it remains very much Cambridge-based.

But next month it will become a US listed stock when its shares begin trading on the Nasdaq exchange in what will be the biggest US IPO for two years.

There will not even be a secondary listing in London. Last night’s regulatory filings paving the way for the IPO come as no surprise.

Nevertheless this is a sobering and symbolic moment. Whatever efforts Rishi Sunak made to persuade SoftBank to maintain some sort of trading presence in the City ended in failure. London has to find a way to re-energise its moribund financial markets... and fast.

Like Arm, the City was once a world leader in its own field that Britain could be proud of. That is in danger of being lost.