Broadcom considering bid to acquire San Diego's Qualcomm

People crowd into the Qualcomm booth to view a series of new products during the annual Consumer Electronics Show

Broadcom, a major supplier of iPhone parts that counts Apple among its largest customers, said this week it will return its headquarters to the US from Singapore. This week it said it planned to move its official headquarters from Singapore to Delaware.

With its profits plummeted more than 90 percent in the latest earnings call, Qualcomm could be fighting a losing legal battle with Apple, giving Broadcom the ideal opportunity to acquire the chipmaker in what could be the largest chip business acquisition ever.

It's unclear how the deal could affect Qualcomm's own blockbuster $40 billion takeover of NXP Semiconductors, which was announced previous year but still hasn't been completed.

Qualcomm declined to comment, while Broadcom did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Graves is a reporter for our sister publication, the San Diego Business Journal, where this item first appeared.

Qualcomm, an early pioneer in mobile phone chips, supplies so-called modem chips to phone makers such as Apple, Samsung and LG that help the phones connect to wireless data networks.

Broadcom's Wi-Fi chips are essentially a commodity and priced much lower than the modem chips. The offer of about $70 a share would include cash and stock and is likely to be made in the coming days, the people said. Before Friday, its shares had slumped 16 percent this year, compared with a 41 percent surge in the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index. This time the San Diego chipmaker is suing Apple for allegedly sharing proprietary Qualcomm technologies with its market rival, Intel. Shares of NXP fell 2 percent and Brocade slipped 2.6 percent.

It is also possible that Broadcom wishes to purchase Qualcomm so that the legal battle with Apple draws to a close and because the chipset manufacturer could eventually become an industry arm of Apple's supplier. Qualcomm is in the process of acquiring NXP, a process held up by legal snags and activist investor pushes for a higher bid.

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