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UPDATE 2-Nvidia targets Arm's customer network, CEO tells SoftBank's Son

(Adds further comments from Huang and Son)

TOKYO, Oct 29 (Reuters) - The chief executive of Nvidia Corp said his planned acquisition of Arm from SoftBank Group Corp cost an “arm and a leg,” but that the chip designer’s valuable network of customers made it worthwhile.

Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank announced in September it would sell Arm to U.S. chip designer Nvidia for $40 billion as it builds a cash pile through asset disposal.

“I had to pay you an arm and a leg for it,” Jensen Huang told SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son in a pre-recorded conversation at annual conference SoftBank World.

Huang, wearing his trademark leather jacket and sat before a fire, said Arm’s customer network is its most valuable asset, and that he wants to bring Nvidia’s artificial intelligence technology to those customers.

“I told you I was going to be the last and highest bidder,” Huang said of the deal, which has raised concerns of potential harm to Arm’s status as a neutral supplier amid trade tension between the United States and China.

The two billionaires were discussing the society-transforming potential of AI, which Huang characterised as “software writing software”.

Son said he met with Huang four years ago in the garden of Son’s home in California. He said they reminisced about Apple Inc co-founder Steve Jobs, who died in 2011, and the iPhone which Son said “changed the lifestyle of humanity”.

“I think in the next 10 years, you are the one Jensen,” said Son. (Reporting by Sam Nussey; Writing by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Christopher Cushing)

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