White House blocks Broadcom takeover of Qualcomm

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday to block Broadcom Ltd. from buying San Diego-based Qualcomm Inc. in a hostile takeover.

Federal regulators last week ordered a delay in a vote by Qualcomm stockholders over a proposed sale to Singapore-based Broadcom, with some members of Congress expressing concerns about a foreign interest controlling a domestic firm that performs "sensitive work" on behalf of the U.S. government.

Trump's order echoed that concern, saying a takeover by Broadcom "threatens to impair the national security of the United States."

Although Broadcom is incorporated and based in Singapore, CEO Hock Tan announced late last year while visiting Trump at the White House that the company would return its corporate headquarters to the United States, likely using San Jose as a base.

Buying Qualcomm would make Broadcom the third-largest chip maker, behind Intel Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. The combined business would become the default provider of a set of components needed to build each of the more than 1billion smart phones sold every year.

The company's hostile takeover attempt has come at a vulnerable time for Qualcomm, which has been embroiled in a long-running legal dispute with Apple and is facing several large fines from governing bodies across the globe, including a $1.23 billion fine recently levied against the company for breaking the European Union's antitrust laws. Qualcomm said it would challenge that fine.

In a brief statement, Broadcom said that they are "reviewing the order. Broadcom strongly disagrees that its proposed acquisition of Qualcomm raises any national security concerns."

Qualcomm is one of the San Diego area's largest private employers, and the family of co-founder Irwin Jacobs is one of the area's most generous philanthropists.