Chip maker Qualcomm spurns $130 bn Broadcom merger bid

GETTY/AFP/File

Semiconductor giant Qualcomm on Monday rejected a $130 billion bid from fellow chip maker Broadcom which could represent the biggest-ever takeover in the tech sector.

Singapore-based Broadcom made the offer last week in a deal that would consolidate two major players in the booming sector fueled by growth in smartphones and other connected devices.

The proposal "significantly undervalues Qualcomm relative to the company's leadership position in mobile technology and our future growth prospects," Paul Jacobs, Qualcomm's executive chairman, said in a statement.

Steve Mollenkopf, Qualcomm's chief executive, said the California company remains confident about its future.

"No company is better positioned in mobile, IoT (internet of things), automotive, edge computing and networking within the semiconductor industry," he said.

"We are confident in our ability to create significant additional value for our stockholders as we continue our growth in these attractive segments and lead the transition to 5G," he said, referring to the fifth generation wireless networks in the works.

Broadcom responded to the announcement by saying it "remains fully committed" to the planned tie-up.

- 'Engage cooperatively' -

AFP/File

Broadcom CEO Hock Tan said the deal would create "a strong, global company with an impressive portfolio of industry-leading technologies and products."

Tan noted that "we have received positive feedback from key customers about this combination" and added that "we continue to believe our proposal represents the most attractive, value-enhancing alternative available to Qualcomm stockholders."

While Tan did not specifically address whether Broadcom would make a hostile bid, he said, "It remains our strong preference to engage cooperatively with Qualcomm's board of directors and management team."

Broadcom could sweeten its bid in an effort to win over management or launch a hostile takeover effort to persuade shareholders to sell or install new board or management members.

Any merger deal would need to pass muster with Qualcomm shareholders and could face regulatory scrutiny in the United States and other markets.

Qualcomm shares rose one percent to $65.35 while Broadcom fell nearly one percent to $262.84 on the news.

Qualcomm has been facing a series of investigations around the world linked to its dominance in the smartphone chip segment.

Broadcom's proposal followed Tan's visit to the White House this month, where he met President Donald Trump and announced plans to move the tech company back to the United States from Singapore.

It comes as Qualcomm seeks a $47 billion acquisition of Dutch rival NXP, a deal that is the subject of a European Union anti-trust probe.

A merger with Broadcom would create a behemoth with about $51 billion in revenues, including those from NXP.

Broadcom, meanwhile, is seeking to buy US rival Brocade Communications in a deal being reviewed by Washington.

Broadcom and Qualcomm are both major makers of semiconductors used in the latest tech gadgetry.

The US firm is the leader in processors for smartphones and is expanding into new sectors, while Broadcom makes an array of chips for wireless communications, set-top boxes and electronic displays.

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