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Qualcomm frustrates Broadcom with higher bid for NXP

A new entry in the saga of Broadcom's attempts to buy rival Qualcomm: a $44 billion potential deal with NXP, which could frustrate Broadcom.

Published onFebruary 21, 2018

  • Qualcomm made an offer to take over NXP Semiconductors NV to the tune of $44 billion.
  • This potential deal no doubt frustrates Broadcom as it mulls over its own attempts to take over Qualcomm.
  • The NXP deal isn’t final yet, but if it goes through it could put Qualcomm in a terrific negotiating position.

The ongoing back-and-forth between Qualcomm and Broadcom just keeps getting more intense. In November last year, Broadcom surprised the tech world by offering about $105 billion to take over rival Qualcomm. A week later, Qualcomm rejected the deal, claiming the price “significantly undervalued” Qualcomm’s business.

Then, two weeks ago, Broadcom made a new bid, this time for about $121 billion. Qualcomm also rejected that bid, but the company said it would meet with Broadcom to discuss the “serious deficiencies in value and certainty in [Broadcom’s] proposal.” That meeting took place, but no new deal came out of it. Qualcomm, once again, cited Broadcom’s undervaluing of Qualcomm as the primary roadblock.

Today, Qualcomm sweetened its own, separate deal to buy NXP Semiconductors NV for $44 billion. The move is no doubt frustrating for Broadcom, as a takeover of NXP would bring more value to Qualcomm, forcing Broadcom to up its bid even higher.

“[The potential NXP deal] makes Qualcomm stronger and more profitable and diversified if there is no deal with Broadcom, and if we do decide to pursue a sale the same is true, more value would accrue to the Qualcomm shareholders,” said Tom Horton, the presiding board director at Qualcomm.

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Acquiring NXP would put Qualcomm in a better position than it is today, as NXP would enable the company to diversify its portfolio, which right now is heavily dependent on the competitive smartphone market. Broadcom, in comparison, already has a diverse portfolio, but lacks the smartphone processor pedigree that Qualcomm has with its Snapdragon line of chipsets, which are used in most major flagships.

Right now, the NXP offer is set to expire on March 5, but Qualcomm keeps pushing that date back. To secure the deal, Qualcomm would need regulatory approval from different global organizations, and there is one major holdout: China’s MOFCOM. Due to the Chinese New Year, the organization’s review has been delayed.

If Broadcom did eventually make a deal that would let them take over Qualcomm, it would be the biggest deal in tech history. In fact, it already would have been the biggest deal with its original $105 billion bid. Now with this NXP deal on the table, whatever bid Qualcomm eventually accepts, if any, will be far higher than that.

The rush to take over Qualcomm has partly to do with the imminent rollout of 5G technology. When 5G becomes the norm, Qualcomm stands to benefit significantly, while Broadcom would much less so, by comparison.

Will the potential of this NXP deal cause Broadcom to give up entirely? Or will it make another bid? The tech and investment world stands by with bated breath.

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