Broadcom eyes mega-deal for United States chip rival Qualcomm

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Shares in Qualcomm were up more than 14 percent to $62.58 as the close of the official trading day neared on the Nasdaq exchange. Broadcom added 5.5 percent to $273.63.

Like Qualcomm, Broadcom is a major supplier of parts of Apple products.

Broadcom Chief Executive Officer Hock Tan is a voracious acquirer, and he's played a key role in a wave of consolidation engulfing the $300 billion semiconductor industry over the last three years.

Qualcomm reported a plunge in net earnings for the fourth quarter of its fiscal year, to $168 million, or 11 cents per diluted share, compared to $1.6 billion, or $1.07 per diluted share, in the same period in 2016.

Broadcom, meanwhile, announced it would return its corporate headquarters to the USA, in San Jose.

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Qualcomm faces a multinational legal battle with Apple Inc over Qualcomm's licensing terms to Apple. As a result, there is talk that the 2018 iPhone and iPad models will feature modem chips made by Intel and MediaTek.

Broadcom is considering an acquisition plan, which it could put into motion as soon as this weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing an unnamed source it said was familiar with the matter. Maybe they were right.

And earlier this year, the FTC filed suit against Qualcomm, accusing it of using anticompetitive tactics to "maintain its monopoly" as the dominant vendor of semiconductors for phones and other mobile gadgets. Apple contends Qualcomm is unfairly charging too much and illegally taking advantage of its market position in chips.

Qulacomm has announced a $47 billion acquisition of Dutch rival NXP, a deal which is the subject of an European Union antitrust inquiry. Qualcomm shares opened at $54.76 but shot up more than 12% on the news, valuing the company at roughly $91 billion. Broadcom already provides Apple with components present in the iPhone and the acquisition could mean it will become enlarged enough to become the third-largest chipmaker, trailing behind Samsung and Intel.

Broadcom's Wi-Fi chips are essentially a commodity and priced much lower than the modem chips.