CHIPMAKER Qualcomm has called off its $44bn (£38bn) acquisition of NXP Semiconductors, blaming rising trade tensions between the US and China.
Qualcomm initially made an offer for Dutch semiconductor outfit NXP back in October 2016, saying such a deal would help it expand beyond smartphones into new industries like the IoT and automotive.
While the deal was swiftly approved by regulators in eight other jurisdictions, including the European Union and South Korea, it has been long held up by the Chinese anti-monopoly authorities over concerns that the merger would have an unfair advantage over rivals - fuelling speculation the deal was being used as leverage in the ongoing trade spat with Washington.
Qualcomm on Wednesday gave China a final deadline of midnight to wave through the deal, but Beijing's Ministry of Commerce simply let the clock run out.
Qualcomm has said it will scrap the agreement altogether rather than continue the uncertain fight toward a completed acquisition. In doing so, it'll have to pay a breakup fee of $2bn, which the chipmaker said it will pay in cash and securities.
However, by abandoning the buyout, Qualcomm also frees up the cash it had set aside to pay for NXP, and the firm said it plans to put $30bn toward a stock repurchase program.
Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf said: "We intend to terminate our purchase agreement to acquire NXP when the agreement expires at the end of the day today, pending any new material developments.
"In addition, as previously indicated, upon termination of the agreement, we intend to pursue a stock repurchase program of up to $30 billion to deliver significant value to our stockholders."
The fall-through of its NXP merger isn't the only bad news Qualcomm had for investors this week. The chipmaker also confirmed that Intel will become Apple's exclusive supplier of modem chips for its incoming 2018 iPhones. µ
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