The halt in the review is noted on the European Commission’s website and is the third such pause.
Although the Qualcomm-NXP deal has been in play since late in 2016 the parties only notified the European Commission on April 28 2017. The Commission decided to make an in-depth investigation of the merger and had 90 working days – until 17 October 2017 – to take a decision on whether the merger was allowable or not. However, the first halt in the review pushed the decision deadline back to December 6 and the latest pause may take the decision deadline into 2018.
“Once the missing information is supplied by the parties, the clock is re-started and the deadline for the Commission’s decision is then adjusted accordingly,” a Reuters account quoted EU competition regulators as saying in an email.
With both companies wishing to pursue the merger it is in their interest to supply the information although some observers have said that Qualcomm is letting the deal slip from its grasp. The longer the deal takes to reach completion the more chance there is for circumstances and assumptions behind the deal to change.
The remit of the European Commission’s competition directorate is to investigate whether such a deal would raise prices for any particular types of component and hence systems and whether it would significantly reduce innovation in the semiconductor industry.
Next: Strategic thinking in Brussels
However, in a new era of politics after the election of President Trump there has been an increase in strategic thinking in Brussels around semiconductors, automobile manufacture and other key technologies. As such preventing the control of European semiconductor companies from moving outside the continent could become an additional factor.
Qualcomm, a leading force in the smartphone chipset business, wants to diversify into automotive and industrial semiconductors and the acquisition of NXP would make it the leading supplier in the fast-growing automotive chip market.
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