Qualcomm, Broadcom fallout

March 14, 2018 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
After President Trump blocked Broadcom’s hostile bid for Qualcomm on national security grounds, Qualcomm has found a way out, but still faces many issues with respect to patents litigation with Apple and its takeover of NXP.

The block was recommended to President Trump by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS. The agency also claimed that the deal would enable Huawei and other Chinese telecommunications companies to displace Qualcomm as leaders in 5G.

Consequently, Broadcom withdrew its offer to acquire Qualcomm after the Presidential Order. However, Broadcom indicated that it will continue to move forward with its redomiciliation process to the USA and will hold its Special Meeting of Stockholders as planned on March 23, 2018.

Though Qualcomm escaped a hostile bid by Broadcom, it still faces serious issues with its licensing practices and the European Commission. An agreement between Qualcomm and Apple Inc., that was in effect from 2011 through 2016 for the pricing of modem chips has been found by the EC  to be in violation of European Union competition law. A fine of approximately 997,439,000 million Euros has been levied. Although, Qualcomm is in the process of contesting this decision, the company is still likely to end up paying a large settlement.

A bigger risk is the prolonged dispute across the globe with Apple over the way that Qualcomm charges for its IP. If Apple were to be successful in this dispute the financial impact on Qualcomm could be significant. Whether the perceived protectionism resulting from the Presidential Order has any bearing on this in the EU and other countries remains to be seen.

A more immediate fallout is the pending decision by the Chinese authorities on the NXP take over by Qualcomm. China is the last regulator required to approve the Qualcomm bid for NXP and is in a position to unravel the process, and could remove a key growth driver for Qualcomm.