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Nov 3, 2017

Broadcom exploring deal to buy Qualcomm: Report

Qualcomm

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Broadcom Ltd (AVGO.O) is planning an unsolicited bid for smartphone chipmaker Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) with an offer possible as soon as this weekend, a source familiar with the matter said on Friday.

A tie-up between the two chipmakers would be the latest in the semiconductor industry that has been rapidly consolidating as companies try to capture a big share of the fast-growing market for connected devices and connected cars.

Broadcom is speaking to advisers and the offer of about US$70 a share would include cash and stock, Bloomberg reported earlier, citing people familiar with the matter. https://bloom.bg/2h8pnlS

No final decisions have been made and there is no guarantee a deal will go ahead.

The US$70-per-share price values Qualcomm at US$103.2 billion. The potential offer is a premium of 27.6 per cent to Qualcomm's Thursday close.

"It's a smart move that would make Broadcom into a tech juggernaut," said GBH Insights analyst Daniel Ives.

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

Broadcom plans to redomicile to the United States from Singapore, President Donald Trump said on Thursday at a White House event where the company's Chief Executive Hock Tan cited Republican tax efforts. It is currently incorporated in Singapore and co-headquartered there and in San Jose, California.

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 is also a major supplier to many of the same companies for Wi-Fi chips.

Broadcom’s Wi-Fi chips are essentially a commodity and priced much lower than the modem chips.

The only other major supplier of high-end chips is Intel Corp (INTC.O), which supplies about half of the modem chips in Apple’s (AAPL.O) iPhones. Purchasing Qualcomm would give Broadcom a much more lucrative line of business in the mobile phone markets.

Intel shares were down 2.3 per cent at US$45.99 in late trading on Friday.

Broadcom is looking to complete its US$5.5 billion purchase of Brocade Communications Systems Inc (BRCD.O) while Qualcomm is in the process of closing its US$38 billion deal for NXP Semiconductors NV (NXPI.O). Shares of Qualcomm jumped 13 per cent, while Broadcom's stock climbed nearly 6 per cent to US$274.43 on Friday afternoon. Shares of NXP fell 3 per cent and Brocade was down 1.7 per cent.

Shares of Broadcom have risen more than 53 per cent this year while Qualcomm has fallen 4 per cent. The forward price-to-earnings ratio for Braodcom stands at 14.6, slightly above its 13.5 average. Qualcomm's forward PE of 15.4 is well below its 25.9 average.

The report also comes when Qualcomm faces a multi-national legal battle with Apple Inc (AAPL.O) over Qualcomm's licensing terms to Apple.