Intel ponders Broadcom buy as Qualcomm's exec chair steps away

Rather than face a combined BroadQual, Chipzilla may break out the cheque book

Intel is reportedly so discomfited by the prospect of a combined Broadcom and Qualcomm that it will consider buying Broadcom to stop the transaction.

A Wall Street Journal report last Friday cited the usual anonymous people with knowledge of the deal as having heard Intel has discussed it might need to take the role of apex predator rather than let Broadcom swallow Qualcomm.

Just how advanced the thinking is was not reported. Nor was it, or will be, reported whether the sources were muddying the waters at the behest of Intel or others with an interest in the transaction.

The idea of an IntBroad merger has some appeal, as Broadcom's portfolio overlaps Intel's, but the two don't go head-to-head in the same way that Qualcomm's burgeoning CPU portfolio threatens Intel's desktop and server franchises. Qualcomm has also already just-about-chased Intel out of the mobile CPU market. From Intel's point of view, Broadcom's reach into device makers could give it a second chance at mobility and make up for the need for a combined company to satisfy anti-competition rumblings about consolidation of networking and storage products.

A combined Broadcom and Qualcomm would also be a mighty company that offers silicon of all sorts - other than memory - for most applications.

But the proposed combination faces all manner of challenges, with US security authorities trying to kill the deal on national security grounds and Qualcomm's decision to discontinue the role of executive chairman. That decision means Dr. Paul E. Jacobs will remain on the company's board, "but will no longer serve in an executive management capacity." The new role means he won't be on the frontline of negotiations with Broadcom. The company's named Jeffrey W. Henderson, an independent Qualcomm director since 2016, as non-executive Chairman.

Keep the popcorn handy, readers: a three-way tussle of the silicon titans is in prospect! ®

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