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Broadcom Qualcomm takeover blocked by Trump over national security worries

13 March 2018

US President Donald Trump has blocked Broadcom's bid for Qualcomm on grounds of national security, putting an end to what would have been the technology industry's biggest deal ever.

The possible takeover raised security concerns and led to an investigation by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. In Monday's release, President Trump reportedly cited national security concerns.

Broadcom breached the order and took steps to hurry the move to the U.S. without notifying the government, a senior official said in a Sunday letter from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, which manages the CFIUS process. At a White House event with the CEO, Hock Tan, he called Broadcom "one of the great, great companies".

Earlier this month, in response to those fears, Broadcom announced the creation of a $1.5bn fund "to ensure U.S. leadership in future wireless technology". But the transfer plan apparently failed to win over Trump when it came time for him to make his final decision on the deal.

A sign to the campus offices of chip maker Broadcom Ltd, who announced on Monday an unsolicited bid to buy peer Qualcomm Inc for $103 billion, is shown in Irvine, California, U.S., November 6, 2017.

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Fortune contacted Broadcom and Qualcomm for comment and will update this story if they respond.

In this case, though the secretive committee was the Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS) in the USA, which reviews acquisitions of American firms by foreign investors.

Broadcom's suit for Qualcomm always faced long odds. The hostile takeover also would have been the biggest deal in the history of the tech industry.

The order also states that Broadcom will not be allowed to purchase or merge with Qualcomm in any way and that all of the people Broadcom has proposed to Qualcomm's board are disqualified.

The deal was not popular in Silicon Valley.

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For instance, the United States committee cleared Beijing-based Naura Microelectronics Equipment Co in January to buy USA semiconductor manufacturing equipment maker Akrion Systems LLC. It announced a $1.5 billion innovation fund, promised to build out Qualcomm's work in 5G and assured Congress that it would not sell any assets to foreign entities.

"I'm particularly glad Broadcom's proposed candidates are prohibited from running for election to Qualcomm's board of directors".

It is likely however that they would have to take it to court before the order could be overruled, as the order suggests the two companies "permanently abandon the proposed takeover".

Qualcomm shares were down 4.5% in after-hours trading to $59.98, while Broadcom shares were relatively flat at $265.

To be sure Broadcom was taken by surprise by the snap decision of CFIUS.

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"This decision is based on the facts and national security sensitivities related to this particular transaction only and is not meant to make any other statement about Broadcom or its employees, including its thousands of hardworking and highly skilled U.S. employees", Mnuchin said.

Broadcom Qualcomm takeover blocked by Trump over national security worries