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14 November, 2017 - 09:38 By Tony Quested

It’s war as Broadcom goes hostile over Qualcomm

Broadcom and Qualcomm, the US technology giants with major operations in Cambridge, are set for a battle of the boards after the former’s $130 billion takeover offer was rejected. 

Broadcom looked set to turn the bid hostile after Qualcomm directors unanimously rejected a price that would be an all-time record for the technology sector.

Qualcomm directors said the bid seriously undervalued the business. Broadcom said it remained fully committed to doing a deal.

Seasoned industry observers were readying themselves for an all-out Broadcom assault.

Broadcom believes it has already won the battle for the hearts, minds and wallets of Qualcomm shareholders and look ready to attempt to replace hostile Qualcomm board members with more amenable candidates.

Qualcomm also raised the potential obstacle of regulatory issues – not least in the key market of China – that could potentially stall or even torpedo such a takeover. But this did not seem to alter Broadcom’s stride.

Broadcom is based locally at Cambridge Science Park while Qualcomm already had a presence in the cluster before acquiring CSR and Nujira and consoliidating at Cambridge Business Park.

Cambridge and US chip champions Arm and Intel also await developments with interest as any Broadcom acquisition of Qualcomm would create the largest supplier of chips to the wireless industry.

With Broadcom set to redomicile and change the parent company of the corporate group from Singapore to a US corporation, the Qualcomm scalp is considered a key statement of intent. But Qualcomm will not go quietly. Broadcom is offering $70 a share. Factored in is $25 billion of net debt, giving effect to Qualcomm's pending acquisition of NXP on its currently disclosed terms.

If Broadcom does succeed in winning Qualcomm, technology industry market watchers are suggesting that Japanese corporation SoftBank might start looking over its shoulder at Intel which might shift its position on Arm, the world’s leading superchip architect, for which it paid $32bn.

One of its strongest competitors in the processor market, Intel will become reinvigorated in order to combat a newly formed Broadcom-Qualcomm powerhouse with their Arm-based Snapdragon processors. 

Intel has already been sensitised by Qualcomm and Microsoft who have been gearing up to port Windows to Arm-based chips thus providing Intel with extra competition in the PC market. 

Two major tech investors have told Business Weekly that SoftBank might  consider flipping Arm.

A major Chinese corporation in the segment is also said to be watching the situation closely in case Arm should become available – although such a scenario would be some way in the distance and the asking price would blow even the proposed Broadcom record outlay for Qualcomm into the stratosphere.

Kiss Communications

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