President Trump has blocked Broadcoms proposed $117 billion buyout of Qualcomm over security concerns, according to a White House statement. News of the presidents decision was first reported by CNBC. The move could send shockwaves rippling through the broader global economy, as the president continues his push to put America first in trade negotiations with global partners. Broadcoms acquisition offer, which was a risky prospect heading into todays decision from the White House, isnt the first time that the president has blocked a deal. But the proposed deal between the two chipmakers had broad implications for the entire technology industry and the ramifications of the presidents decision will be enormous. The combination of the two chipmakers would have potentially been the biggest tech merger of all time, and would have brought together two of the largest companies that manufacture the processors that power phones, computers and almost the entire array of connected devices. Its a saga that had played out for months amid resistance from Qualcomm — and more recently the US government, whose Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) last week said it would be investigating the deal on the grounds of national security. In an unprecedented move, Qualcomm actually approached CFIUS to quash the Broadcom bid — as TechCrunch reported over the weekend. Originally… analysts thought that CFIUS was responding to pressure from Congress to act unilaterally on the proposed deal. What we have learned though is that Qualcomms board had secretly asked CFIUS to review the transaction on January 29th this year. In other words, Qualcomm is using Americas regulatory authority as a potential weapon to thwart Broadcoms bid and protect itself. Its a brilliant maneuver, and also fairly unprecedented: CFIUS is usually only engaged once both parties to a transaction have finalized a deal and submitted it for review. Broadcom attempted to avoid CFIUS by re-domiciling to the US, announcing today that it would complete the transition by April 3. That wasnt fast enough though and likely prompted the President to pull his already itchy trigger finger to quash the deal. Despite the decision by President Trump to act as a white knight from the White House and save Qualcomm from Broadcoms clutches, the company still faces some daunting challenges. Its still facing a looming lawsuit from Apple over allegedly unfair business practices and it has yet to fully digest its acquisition of NXP. It was amid these woes that the company was forced to restructure its board. Last week the company said that Dr. Paul E. Jacobs will no longer serve as executive chairman for the companys board of directors. While he will remain a director, the move was a sign from Qualcomms board that it recognized all was not well at the venerable chipmaker. The NXP acquisition was actually central to Qualcomms argument that it is undervalued. At one point the company wrote an open letter to Broadcom, stating that your proposal ascribes no value to our accretive NXP acquisition, no value for the expected resolution of our current licensing disputes and no value for the significant opportunity in 5G. Your proposal is inferior relative to our prospects as an independent company and is significantly below both trading and transaction multiples in our sector. In other words, it doesnt think Broadcom is appreciating the value gathered from Qualcomms recent acquisition of NXP Semiconductor. It also believes that Broadcom is underestimating Qualcomms potential 5G wireless technology. The 5G factor was critical to the presidents decision to block the bid. A letter from the Treasury Department, released last week, actually laid out the case for the presidents rejection. In it, CFIUS said that Broadcoms history of slashing research spending and its ability to compromise Qulacomms assets through relationships with foreign governments was concerning. Theres a race on for global influence over the newest 5G connectivity technology — which holds out the promise of super fast connectivity to enable the autonomous, automated future of driving and manufacturing that tech executives salivate over. Its one reason why Google and Microsoft were vocal in their opposition to the Broadcom acquisition. Qualcomm acknowledged receiving the Presidential order with the following statement: Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today received a Presidential Order to immediately and permanently abandon the proposed takeover of Qualcomm by Broadcom Limited (NASDAQ: AVGO). Under the terms of the Presidential Order, all of Broadcoms director nominees are also disqualified from standing for election as directors of Qualcomm. Qualcomm was also ordered to reconvene its 2018 Annual Meeting of Stockholders on the earliest possible date, which based on the required 10-day notice period, is March 23, 2018. Stockholders of record on January 8, 2018 will be entitled to vote at the meeting.
Last week, Treasury official argued deal would let China dominate 5G development. Had the proposed deal gone through, it would have allowed the Singapore-based Broadcom to purchase the San Diego-based Qualcomm for $117 billion. The hostile takeover also would have been the biggest deal in the history of the tech industry. The order, which did not fully explain on what basis the president made this assessment, suggests that the Trump administration is willing to protect American companies against foreign competitors even more than some had realized. Trump recently ordered that tariffs on imported steel and aluminum be put in place, propping up those American industries. Trump's executive order comes a week after the Department of the Treasurys Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States came to a similar conclusion. In a four-page letter, Aimen N. Mir, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Investment Security, wrote that the national security concerns stem from the fact that: ...a weakening of Qualcomms position would leave an opening for China to expand its influence on the 5G standard-setting process. Chinese companies, including Huawei, have increased their engagement in 5G standardization working groups as part of their efforts to build out a 5G technology. For example, Huawei has increased its expenditures and owns about 10 percent of 5G essential patents. While the United States remains dominant in the standards-setting space currently, China would likely compete robustly to fill any void left by Qualcomm as a result of this hostile takeover. Broadcom is expected to lessen Qualcomms research and development in favor of short-term profitability — in other words, China cant be given the opportunity to dominate 5G, Mir suggested. Non-Qualcomm SoCs usually require a separate modem, which takes up more space in the already tight smartphone design. In short, non-Qualcomm-powered phones are generally inferior and more expensive to make. On November 2, 2017, Broadcom CEO Hock Tan appeared with Trump at the White House and promised to "re-domicile" the company in Delaware. (The company, while officially based in Singapore, is currently co-headquartered in San Jose, California.) "I am American, as are nearly all my direct managers, my board members, and over 90 percent of my shareholders," Tan said. "So today, we are announcing that we are making America home again. Thank you. Our commitment to re-domicile into the United States is a huge reaffirmation to our shareholders, to the 7,500 employees we have across 24 states in America today, that America is once again the best place to lead a business with a global footprint. Thanks to you, Mr. President, business conditions have steadily improved." However, such a move does not appear to have taken place. Adding to the intrigue, last Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Intel is interested in buying Broadcom. In a two-sentence statement issued Monday evening after the executive order, Broadcom wrote: "Broadcom is reviewing the order. Broadcom strongly disagrees that its proposed acquisition of Qualcomm raises any national security concerns."