Qualcomm deal delay hints at new tech nationalism

07 March, 2018, 00:26 | Author: Larry Hoffman
  • Reuters

"Having a well-known and trusted company hold the dominant role that Qualcomm does in the USA telecommunications infrastructure provides significant confidence in the integrity of such infrastructure as it relates to national security".

The inter-agency body, led by the Treasury, rarely looks at mergers before companies have clinched an agreement, highlighting the urgency of United States concerns about safeguarding semiconductor technology.

Qualcomm stated on 5 March that "Broadcom's claims that the CFIUS inquiry was a surprise to them has no basis in fact". It raised the possibility that a takeover would weaken Qualcomm's leadership position in mobile technology and 5G, opening the door to competition from Chinese companies such as Huawei.

"Qualcomm has become well-known to, and trusted by, the US government", the Treasury Department wrote to lawyers involved in the deal on Monday.

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With each passing day, we seem to get a new development in Broadcom's attempt to take over Qualcomm . Unsurprisingly, Broadcom says this is a desperate move on the part of Qualcomm to stop the takeover.

CFIUS, made up of representatives from the Departments of Defense, State, Justice, Treasury, Commerce, Energy and Homeland Security, assesses proposed foreign deals to purchase USA assets to ensure they do not harm national security.

Qualcomm on Monday postponed a shareholder vote on Broadcom's nominees for Qualcomm's board after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, which Treasury leads, ordered a delay.

"Having a well-known and trusted company hold the dominant role that Qualcomm does in the US telecommunications infrastructure provides significant confidence in the integrity of such infrastructure as it relates to national security".

Treasury also cited the Defense Department's reliance on products made by Qualcomm, which is based in San Diego. Still, the deal cant go on without an okay from CFIUS (and later other regulatory bodies will get involved too).

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The moving "process is well underway" and accused Qualcomm of secretly scuttling the takeover effort by appealing to CFIUS, Broadcom insists. The panel also advised against a deal between Chinese-backed private equity firm Canyon Bridge and USA chipmaker Lattice Semiconductor Corp, leading president Trump to block the proposal in September 2017. Instead, Broadcom has resorted to what is essentially a hostile takeover by putting forward a slate of six Broadcom nominees for Qualcomm's 11-member board.

Broadcom said on March 5 that CFIUS' intervention was the result of secret moves made by Qualcomm on January 29 to seek an investigation into the offer, which Qualcomm's board has said significantly undervalues the company.

Qualcomm took a deep breath, counted to three and responded to Broadcom's weekend broadside before postponing its stockholder meeting by a month.

Singapore-based Broadcom has been working for weeks on a takeover of rival Qualcomm. Currently, Broadcom is part of Broadcom Limited located in Singapore.

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