Broadcom starts playing mind games with Qualcomm investors

Broadcom is ramping up the pressure on Qualcomm investors with rumours of a more attractive offer in the acquisition saga, but sources have warned CEO Hock Tan might change his mind.

In a couple of weeks Qualcomm investors will be sitting down (March 6) to discuss numerous topics, but top of the list will surely be Broadcom’s leering intentions. According to Reuters, Broadcom plans to up the ante by tabling an offer of $80 and $82 per share and a higher-than-usual breakup fee should regulators kick-back against the acquisition.

While such announcements should not be considered unusual it might be nothing more than cloak-and-dagger tactics to ramp up excitement and move a few of the fence-sitters over to the Broadcom camp. Sources have cautioned that Broadcom boss Hock Tan could alter these conditions when the official offer is made. Whether this is Broadcom manipulating the press and the emotions of gold diggers hording Qualcomm shares remains to be seen.

Those who operate at the top end of the business world know what they are doing, despite chitter chatter down the pub that they are useless, and Tan seems like an individual who likes to get his own way. Every now and then decisions are made which don’t seem to make sense, but it could be an effort to make sure certain individuals have the last say or upper hand. There doesn’t seem to be any particular rhyme or reason to the situation aside from a bit of ego feeding. Tan could just be toying with investors here to force them into a corner and get his own way.

The original offer of $70 per share has been deemed inconsequential, though an offer between $80 and $82 per share will test the resolve. It would value Qualcomm at $120 billion, though this is of course assuming the deal would not be scuppered by regulatory authorities who are staying tight-lipped for the moment. The higher-than-usual breakup fee perhaps indicates the tickling intentions of regulators who will surely be keeping a very watchful eye on events; this is one acquisition they should quite rightly probe, especially considering the NXP acquisition.

Qualcomm’s $47 billion acquisition of Dutch chip-maker NXP has been the recipient of careful consideration around the world, with only China yet to give the thumbs up. Should Broadcom’s offer be accepted by Qualcomm it would mean consolidation on top of consolidation, involving a company which has been the subject of numerous fines around the world owing to the abuse of a dominant market position. Such a scenario will certainly make watchdogs nervous.

Elsewhere in the Broadcom world, the company has said it expects to have a positive Q1 finishing in the top-end of expectations.

“Our first quarter results are tracking towards the higher end of our expectations as we continue to execute on our business model,” said Tan. “Looking ahead to our second fiscal quarter, strong data centre demand for our wired and enterprise storage products and a seasonal pick up in broadband is expected to offset a greater than seasonal decline in wireless. As a result, we currently forecast on a normalized 13-week quarter basis, that second quarter revenue will be roughly flat to the previous quarter.”

The quarter ended February 4 with the team expecting net revenue in the range of $5.300 billion to $5.350 billion when the results are officially reported. For the second quarter, expectations have been set at $5 billion, plus or minus $75 million.

There should be a bit more clarity over the next couple of weeks, though Broadcom does seem to be getting some success in tempting Qualcomm investors.

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