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Qualcomm will pay $2 billion to end failed acquisition of NXP

Qualcomm will pay $2 billion to end failed acquisition of NXP


China wouldn’t approve the deal

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Qualcomm has finally given up on buying NXP Semiconductors, a Dutch company known for automotive and IoT chips, which it’s been trying to acquire for nearly two years. The deal has long been held up by the Chinese government, and now, 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 $2 billion.

The two companies initially entered into a deal in October 2016, with Qualcomm agreeing to pay $47 billion for NXP. The deadline to close the deal has been extended many times since then, as the companies wait for China to approve or deny the merger; every other country reviewing the acquisition granted its approval.

With no answer from China, the deal will once again hit its deadline tonight, but this time Qualcomm doesn’t plan to extend it. The agreement is still valid until midnight ET, so it’s possible the acquisition will still go through; but China would have to approve the transaction within the next six and a half hours for that to happen. “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,” Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf said in a statement announcing the company’s third quarter earnings today.

Though Qualcomm will have to pay a breakup fee for letting the acquisition fall through, it also frees up the cash it had set aside to pay for the NXP deal. It plans to put $30 billion toward a stock repurchase program.

The bigger downside for the company is that, without NXP, Qualcomm is even more reliant on its existing product portfolio at a time when it’s under a legal assault across the globe for allegedly anti-competitive patent licensing practices. The company maintains a commanding lead in the mobile processor and modem space, but the IoT and automotive markets — both of which Qualcomm competes in, too — are still taking off, and the breakup of this deal means fewer ready-to-go resources for Qualcomm.