ARM’s decision to agree a $31 billion takeover by Japanese business SoftBank smashed all kinds of records in terms of deals for the Cambridge UK science & technology cluster.
Without it, dealflow would have been modest even for a traditionally quiet July.
Thanks to ARM, July’s haul of just under $32bn took the value of transactions to $137.923bn in the 40 months of Business Weekly’s Cambridge Deals Digest – a monthly average of just over $3.51bn.
It was the first Deals Digest post-Brexit and reflected a clear slowdown in activity – rescued by the ARM-SoftBank extravaganza which continues to cause angst among Cambridge technology entrepreneurs.
CEO Simon Segars has offered the most cogent rationale for ARM deciding to sell at this point in its 25-year history. He says it will take billions of dollars of investment to achieve what ARM envisions to make the IoT an effective reality – and that SoftBank shares that commitment and vision.
One of Britain’s top bosses with a good handle on the Cambridge scene told me that besides handing ARM a growth war chest, the acquisition also protected the business not only from future trading vagaries but also against “another predator with malevolent intent.”
Hi-tech stole all the major deal headlines in July. Mike Lynch’s cyber security brainchild Darktrace was chief among these. Darktrace raised a fresh $65 million from global big hitters, including Samsung, to take its fundraising haul to $105.5m in 12 calendar months.
CEO Nicole Eagan told Business Weekly: “Demand for Darktrace is growing exponentially in every market and this latest funding will help us continue to grow the sales team to meet that international demand. “There will also be investment in the technology as threats become increasingly sophisticated and based on machine learning themselves.”
A long running deal that had been bubbling away on the back burner finally came to the boil as Jagex, the online games pioneer, accepted $300m from a consortium of Chinese investors including Shandong Hongda Mining Company. The new owners said the move would trigger a massive investment programme for the business as it stayed in Cambridge but pushed its reach internationally.
Cambridge communications technology business Sepura plc confirmed a contract worth around $34 million for the New York City Transit project. Inkjet printing technology business Xaar plc made a key acquisition in the US that could stack up to $18.5 million.
It bought Engineered Printing Solutions in Vermont, a leading provider of product printing equipment in North America; it was the first acquisition in Xaar’s strategic vision to achieve £220 million of annual sales by 2020.
In the normally prolific life science sector locally, things were relatively quiet. Cambridge Medical Robotics, a private business developing a next-generation robotic system for universal keyhole surgery, secured $20.3 million in a Series A funding round from new investors. They included ABB Technology Ventures, LGT Global Invest and Cambridge Innovation Capital.
Sosei subsidiary Heptares Therapeutics earned a $10 million milestone payment from AstraZeneca after the first subject had been dosed with an immuno-oncology candidate from Heptares in a Phase 1 clinical study.
Not a done deal by any means but Sanofi, which owns Genzyme locally, increased its bid for US business Medivation to $10 billion from $9.3bn to trigger takeover talks; the parties are now deep in dialogue.
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