M&A frenzy – in spades

1 min read

Just when you thought the M&A frenzy of the last couple of years was over, away we go again. What are we to make of Broadcom’s audacious bid to acquire Qualcomm? Quite apart from the scale of the move – Broadcom has offered $130billion – there’s a few technology issues.

Broadcom – at least in the days before it was acquired by Avago – was essentially a comms company, with interests ranging from networking and Bluetooth to the IoT. Avago retained the name for the expanded company, which now offers analogue and digital products to companies operating in the wired infrastructure, wireless communications, enterprise storage and industrial sectors.

History buffs will remember that Avago had its roots in Hewlett-Packard, which spun out its non computing businesses under the Agilent banner. A private investment consortium bought out the Avago business and it went public as Avago in 2008.

Let’s assume the deal gets the nod from all involved – and that’s going to be an interesting process. If so, the ‘new’ Broadcom will be the third largest electronics company, with sales not far behind those of Intel and Samsung. At the moment, it might not be a direct threat to Intel, but what if Qualcomm gets its ARM based server business on track? Broadcom/Qualcomm will have a fairly sharp focus on the automotive sector – perhaps boosted by NXP, if that deal survives – and on autonomous vehicles; just the market in which Intel has declared it would like to have a major share. Meanwhile, the general comms thrust could present a significant challenge to Samsung.

What might the Broadcom portfolio look like? It would offer processors ranging from MCUs to multicore devices for mobile phones, along with all the relevant communications technology. It also has ASIC capability through the acquisition of LSI Logic. It would have a presence in all markets, plus the benefit of NXP’s portfolio, which brings more comms products, as well as a focus on security and automotive.

Already, there are suggestions that regulators might not look at the deal with great enthusiasm. China is said to be wary, but there’s been no reaction so far from the EU, which could throw a significant spanner in the works.