The chairman and CEO of Arm China, who refused to give up his prestigious tech leadership role despite being fired in 2020, may have finally been pushed out of the door. A Reuters report says that Allen Wu has been replaced and that all Chinese legal processes were satisfied.
The replacement of the Arm China CEO appears to be a rapidly developing story. On Wednesday, we reported on Allen Wu’s exit being imminent when Arm went to court to get new business registration documents and a new seal (sometimes called a chop) issued. Mr. Wu had steadfastly refused to let go of these important symbols of ownership in Chinese business.
Earlier today, with the wheels of business law looking like they were going to roll over Mr. Wu, the stubborn Arm China boss claimed there were flaws in the business registration process by which new documents and a new seal were issued. He also published a letter to Arm China’s WeChat page. This letter, apparently signed by 430 Arm China staff, said that the organization would continue with Wu as the leader, even though the court issued documents and a seal.
However, an Arm spokesperson insisted all Chinese law had been followed in full, with a new seal and business license granted by Chinese governmental authorities in Shenzhen. “The relevant agency in Shenzhen has registered Dr. Liu as the company’s legal representative and general manager, and duly issued a new chop and business license to Dr. Liu,” said an Arm Ltd spokesperson.
Dr. Renchen Liu is a vice dean at the Research Institute of Tsinghua University in Shenzhen. Liu will become Arm China’s co-CEO, alongside Eric Chen, a managing partner at the SoftBank Vision Fund.
It seems pretty certain that Wu’s attempts to stay on his throne aren’t quite over yet, but this might be a significant milestone for Softbank/Arm Ltd in taking back control of its Chinese Joint Venture.
Wu has previously acted in ways out of the ordinary for a big tech boss. For example, when Arm first tried to fire him, he posted security guards at Arm China premises to stop outside execs from visiting the business. In addition, he had previously been suspected of setting up an investment firm competing with Arm’s business in China. More recently, Wu’s rogue Arm China operation boasted of declaring independence from Arm Ltd and having its own China R&D team of 400+ scientists.
Arm IPO Process Smoothed
Arm owner Softbank must feel relieved if its China JV issues are finally over. For example, Arm China had previously refused outside auditing, which was enough of a stumbling block for the doomed Nvidia deal. With the Arm IPO being readied by Softbank, Arm China CEOs working in concert with the parent company should help make the process as smooth as possible.
We can’t be sure how Softbank and Arm Ltd managed the cooperation of the Chinese authorities in securing the new registration and seal. It might have been aided by Arm Ltd initiating a transfer of its shares in the China unit, reckons the FT.