HONG KONG (Reuters) – Arm China said on Thursday its former CEO Allen Wu was refusing to relinquish his role despite being fired last week and that it would overhaul its communication system to protect against its misuse by Wu and his supporters.
Wu, Arm China and its British parent Arm Ltd have been embroiled in a two-year-long dispute and the latest development shows a resolution is not imminent.
At stake is a stock market listing for Arm, the chip designer that is owned by Japanese technology conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp.
Allen Wu and Arm China did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Arm announced on April 29 that Wu was ousted as Arm China’s CEO and was replaced by two new Co-CEOs. He was also removed as its legal representative. Wu’s ouster was opposed by some staff at the unit.
Arm China, a Shanghai-based joint venture between the British company and Chinese private equity firm Hopu Investment, first tried to oust Wu in 2020, citing “conflicts of interest”.
He had refused to step down then and continued to maintain control of the company, complicating Arm Ltd’s efforts to audit the unit’s financials, a process that is crucial to its planned IPO.
On Thursday, Arm China issued a statement on its official Weibo account in which it said Wu has “refused to comply with the board’s decision, deliberately challenged the bottom line of law and refused to hand over his management duties”.
It said that Wu and his supporters had been using other social media accounts and platforms to voice opposition to the board’s decision and so the firm would make Arm China’s official Weibo account as its official communication channel with immediate effect.
It added that it may pursue legal action against those who use the company’s other online channels to spread “false information” including via WeChat and other websites associated with the company.
In February, SoftBank shelved a blockbuster sale of Arm to US chipmaker Nvidia valued at up to $80 billion, citing regulatory hurdles. The collapse of the sale marked a major setback for SoftBank’s efforts to generate funds at time when valuations across its portfolio are under pressure.
Instead, Arm is now seeking a listing before March 2023.
(By Josh Ye; Reporting by Josh Ye; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)