It might be over just like that. Broadcom's hopes of acquiring Qualcomm might have been quashed for good. President Trump has issued an order blocking Broadcom's proposed takeover and anything "substantially equivalent" to it over concerns that it might "impair the national security" of the country. The order also disqualifies all 15 of Broadcom's proposed directors for Qualcomm. The move follows a letter from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US warning the companies that it believed the takeover would pose too great a security risk. If Broadcom bought Qualcomm, CFIUS argued, it would likely cut costs at the American company and weaken its ability to compete against Chinese rivals like Huawei. That, in turn, would let China dominate 5G wireless and leave Americans vulnerable. CFIUS also said that Broadcom defied an interim order requiring that it give a panel 5 business days' notice before it took steps to officially relocate to the US. We've asked both Broadcom and Qualcomm for comment, although Broadcom had previously said it was in "full compliance" with the temporary order. To put it mildly, things aren't looking good for Broadcom. There was a chance it could have escaped CFIUS' scrutiny by claiming that the takeover fell outside of its jurisdiction, but that opportunity is gone now -- as long as Trump's order holds, the deal is off. While Qualcomm isn't likely to complain much given that it repeatedly rejected Broadcom's bids as undervalued, Broadcom now faces the prospect of having to either look at another acquisition target or accept that it will have to tackle 5G by itself. Update: Not surprisingly, Broadcom said it's "reviewing" the order and "strongly disagrees" that its would-be acquisition poses national security risks. Qualcomm noted that it received the Order, and said it will reconvence its annual stockholders meeting on March 23rd.
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."
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.
This weekend, I published a comprehensive overview of the epic hundred-billion-dollar Qualcomm versus Broadcom merger battle that has taken place over the past few weeks. In that post, I concluded that … the Trump administration is going to attempt to maintain jurisdiction over the merger regardless of Broadcoms redomicile process [back to the US], and will likely end up negative on the deal although it may not outright block it. Not only did the Trump administration move faster than expected to make a decision on the merger through CFIUS — the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States ( TechCrunchs overview of the committee here) — but it decided to unilaterally block the transaction from taking place. While not unprecedented in the history of CFIUS, this is an incredible decision on a U.S. tech merger, and has massive ramifications for tech company valuations and strategy going forward. While there are many issues at stake in the merger, the one that drove interest in Washington has been Qualcomms leadership role in 5G, a technology that the Trump administration considers to be a national security priority. Only two companies in the world have the technological prowess today in this emerging standard: U.S.-based Qualcomm and China-based Huawei. The Pentagon and national security beltway types have been deeply concerned about Huawei technology encroaching on U.S. telecom infrastructure, even going so far as to block the introduction of Huaweis new mobile phone from being introduced on AT&Ts network. Broadcom is Singapore-domiciled, but has the majority of its workers and office space in North America. However, it has a reputation — whether earned or not — of playing a classic private equity game of massively cutting R&D to boost short-term profits. Washingtons concern has been that a Broadcom takeover of Qualcomm would mean that Americas only player in the 5G race would be eliminated through budget cutting, leaving China to monopolize a key technology standard for a generation. There are a lot of unique properties here: the size of the transaction, the complicated background of Qualcomm and Broadcom, the recent timing of Trumps tariffs and other protectionist measures and the focus on telecom, which has traditionally been very sensitive in DC security circles. That said, it is now clear that the Trump administration intends to empower CFIUS to review more technology deals, particularly when companies are potentially transacting with China and other declared strategic competitors. If such a pattern continues, we can expect to see potential declines in valuations for technology companies, which will no longer have deep-pocketed Chinese buyers as potential acquirers. Thats not all, though. A reform measure currently in Congress would extend CFIUS authority to potentially include minority investments as well — such as rounds of venture capital. While that bill is not yet firmed up, it could massively chill Chinese venture investment in Silicon Valley, which has been robust and expanding over the past few years. Its important to note that whatever the rhetoric, this was not about jobs or the economy directly. Qualcomm was expected to stay in the United States along with most of its workers, and Broadcom has already announced its decision to redomicile back to the United States following the passage of the tax cuts at the end of 2017. This is about security, and which country is going to hold power in the 21st century. The Trump administration has declared that its foreign policy will be America First, and this decision lives up to that slogan. China is the second largest economic market in the world, and almost certainly the second most important technology market after the United States. A disruption in the flow of talent and capital between these markets — as we witnessed today — will force company CEOs to resist foreign capital and potentially accept lower valuations as a result. It will also limit the strategic opportunities for global expansion, requiring companies to adapt their strategies not just in China, but elsewhere in the world. In short, todays decision is the pen stroke heard around the world.
Hoping to avoid a prolonged national security review, Singapore-based Broadcom said it will move its international headquarters back to the U.S. by April 3 as it continues a hostile takeover bid for rival Qualcomm. In a press release today, Broadcom confirmed the date for the first time while also emphasizing its roots in the U.S. Indeed, the whole snarled mess surrounding the notion of a foreign company buying a prize like Qualcomm goes right to the heart of what one means by U.S. company. Politicians are worried by the thought of an Asia-based company seizing control of Qualcomm, which is emerging as a leader in next-generation 5G chips. Qualcomms board has fought the bid since last November even as Broadcom raised the price to $121 billion. Last week, the U.S. Treasurys Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) released a letter saying it was reviewing the transaction for national security risks, putting the deal temporarily on hold. This was not entirely surprising and was one of the reasons Broadcom announced at a ceremony with President Trump last November that it plans to relocate to the U.S. The company said in its press release today that it supports the CFIUS process and noted that the agency had previously reviewed and cleared its acquisition of Brocade in November 2017. At the close of that transaction, Broadcom agreed to relocate. The move to the U.S. will be a homecoming for a company that in many ways never really left. Broadcom began life in Irvine, California as a fabless semiconductor company. It was acquired in 2016 by Avago Technologies, which started as a product division of Hewlett-Packard and was spun off in 1999 into Agilent Technologies. After that deal, Avago renamed itself Broadcom and established joint headquarters in Singapore and San Jose. In many ways, what Broadcom refers to as a plan to redomicile to the U.S. is a largely symbolic move. The company hasnt said how many executives or what, if any, operations may be shifted. But it emphasized that it believes the change should eliminate any fears around national security. In short, U.S. national security concerns are not a risk to closing, as Broadcom never plans to acquire Qualcomm before it completes redomiciliation, the company said. Whether that does actually satisfy the CFIUS remains to be seen. Meanwhile, amid delays in reaching a deal, rumors have emerged that rival Intel is considering making a bid for Broadcom.
After getting delayed by at least a month or so following a regulatory investigation just days before the meeting was scheduled to take place, Qualcomms timetable to hold the meeting is now bumped up to ten days from now — and possibly before Broadcom may complete its move to the U.S. The new change is coming as part of a presidential order by the Trump administration to block a takeover attempt by Broadcom, which is looking to acquire the company in a hostile maneuver worth over $100 billion — making it the largest tech deal of all time. Qualcomm planned to hold the meeting last week, but had to push it back pending an investigation by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (or CFIUS). Qualcomm also said in a statement that the order disqualified the nominees from Broadcom for the shareholder meeting, which would have given it the capacity to acquire Qualcomm in a hostile takeover. Broadcom said it planned to move its headquarters to the U.S., and Bloomberg reported that the company said it would have completed its move by April 3 — again, days before the shareholder meeting was to originally take place. The sum of all these moves — strategic or otherwise — is that, for now, it looks like Qualcomm isnt going to even give Broadcom a shot at getting the directors on board that could help it complete its hostile takeover. Its also a setback for Broadcom CEO Hock Tan, known as an aggressive dealmaker thats looking to lock up the industry in the face of companies like Intel looking to make their moves into the 5G space. 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. In short, the drama continues. See also: A brief history of the epic battle over the fate of Qualcomm.
( Reuters) — U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday blocked microchip maker Broadcoms proposed takeover of Qualcomm on national security grounds, ending what would have been the technology industrys biggest deal ever amid concerns that it would give China the upper hand in mobile communications. The presidential order reflected a calculation that the United States lead in creating technology and setting standards for the next generation of mobile cell phone communications would be lost to China if Singapore-based Broadcom took over San Diego-based Qualcomm, according to a White House official. Qualcomm has emerged as one of the biggest competitors to Chinas Huawei Technologies Co [HWT.UL] in the sector, making Qualcomm a prized asset. Qualcomm had earlier rebuffed Broadcoms $117 billion bid, which was under investigation by the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a multi-agency panel led by the Treasury Department that reviews the national security implications of acquisitions of U.S. corporations by foreign companies. In a letter on March 5, CFIUS said it was investigating whether Broadcom would starve Qualcomm of research dollars that would allow it to compete and also cited the risk of Broadcoms relationship withthird party foreign entities. While it did not identify those entities, the letter repeatedly described Qualcomm as the leading company in so-called 5G technology development and standard setting. A shift to Chinese dominance in 5G would have substantial negative national security consequences for the United States, CFIUS said. 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. A White House official on Monday confirmed that the national security concerns related to the risks of Broadcoms relationship with third party foreign entities. A source familiar with CFIUS thinking had said that, if the deal was completed, the U.S. military was concerned that within 10 years,there would essentially be a dominant player in all of these technologies and thats essentially Huawei, and then the American carriers would have no choice. They would just have to buy Huawei (equipment).Huawei has been forging closer commercial ties with big telecom operators across Europe and Asia, putting it in prime position to lead the global race for 5G networks despite U.S. concerns. Huawei has a dominant position in China, which is set to become the worlds biggest 5G market by far, and has also made inroads in the rest of world to compete with rivals such as Ericsson (ERICb.ST) and Nokia (NOKIA.HE) in several lucrative markets, including countries that are longstanding U.S. allies. Qualcomm is also a major player in 5G, estimated to have 15 percent of 5G-essential patents in the world, compared with 11 percent for Nokia and 10 percent for all of China, according to a Jefferies report citing LexInnova research. Many smartphone makers are counting on Qualcomm to deliver its 5G chipset on time in late 2018 to roll out their 5G phones in 2019. Shares of Broadcom rose less than 1.0 percent to $264.10 in after-hours trade while Qualcomm fell 4.3 percent to $60.14. Broadcom said it was reviewing the presidential order. Broadcom strongly disagrees that its proposed acquisition of Qualcomm raises any national security concerns, it said in a statement in response to the decision. Qualcomm, which had delayed its annual shareholder meeting during the CFIUS review, set the new date for March 23. The move by Trump to kill the deal comes only months after the U.S. president himself stood next to Broadcom Chief Executive Hock Tan at the White House, announcing the companys decision to move its headquarters to the United States and calling itone of the really great, great companies. This is the fifth time a U.S. president has blocked a deal based on CFIUS objections and the second deal Trump has stopped since assuming office slightly over a year ago. The proposed takeover of Qualcomm by the Purchaser (Broadcom) is prohibited, and any substantially equivalent merger, acquisition, or takeover, whether effected directly or indirectly, is also prohibited, the presidential order released on Monday said. The order citedcredible evidence that led Trump to believe that Broadcoms taking control of Qualcommmight take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States. Broadcom had struggled to complete its proposed deal to buy Qualcomm, which had cited several concerns including the price offered and potential antitrust hurdles. The presidential decision to block the deal cannot be appealed. However, it is not clear what rules Broadcom would have to follow if it goes ahead with announced plans to move its headquarters to the United States. Companies may challenge CFIUSs jurisdiction in court but may not challenge the inter-agency panels national security findings, a CFIUS expert said. If Broadcom decides to press on with its effort to buy Qualcomm, it would be wise to drop the matter for now while the company quietly wraps up its move to the United States, a second CFIUS expert said. Once the move is done, Broadcom could argue that CFIUS does not have jurisdiction, the second expert said. Both spoke privately to protect business relationships.
President Donald Trump issued an order Monday evening blocking any merger of the chipmaking giants Broadcom and Qualcomm, saying it was necessary to protect national security. There is credible evidence, the order says, that if the Singapore-based Broadcom took control of the US-based Qualcomm that the company might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States. Broadcom has been trying to purchase Qualcomm for the last several months, but has continually been rebuffed. Its since tried to stack Qualcomms board with friendly members. Trumps order says that Broadcom will not be allowed to purchase or merge with Qualcomm in any way, and that all of the people Broadcom has proposed to Qualcomms board are disqualified. It seems that Broadcom was aware that Trump or his Justice Department might attempt to block the merger on these grounds and has been trying to avoid it. Trump has blocked similar takeovers before, having stopped a Chinese state-owned company from buying an American semiconductor firm back in September. Broadcom is currently in the process of moving its headquarters from Singapore to the US, according to Bloomberg, and planned to complete the transition by April 3rd. With the move, Broadcom seems ready to fight Trumps order. In a statement, the company said US national security concerns are not a risk to closing, as Broadcom never plans to acquire Qualcomm before it completes redomiciliation. Its not clear whether thatll be allowed to happen. Trumps order says that the two companies should permanently abandon the proposed takeover, indicating that Broadcoms move wont make a difference, unless its willing to take the order to court.