Former chairman and CEO of Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM), Paul Jacobs, is now reportedly trying to assemble a bid to take the chipmaker private. The Financal Times reports that Jacobs is talking to SoftBank Corp. and others about funding.
SoftBank already bought UK-based ARM Ltd. for $32 billion in July 2016. So, if it was involved in a takeover of Qualcomm, this would make the Japanese company a major backer of cellphone silicon used around the globe. (See SoftBank Muscles In on ARM in $32B Deal.)
The attempt by Jacobs, however, is considered a long shot, according to Reuters.
Jacobs resigned as executive chairman of the wireless chip giant on March 9 as the $117 billion battle by Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) to acquire Qualcomm continued. That effort, however, was scuppered by President Trump on Monday, who blocked the bid on national security grounds. (See Broadcom Formally Drops $117B Qualcomm Bid.)
The Trump administration was concerned that the US would lose its edge in 5G to the Chinese if Singapore-based Broadcom took over Qualcomm. Some of the same logic would surely apply if SoftBank put up large amounts of funding in Jacobs's scheme.
Chinese vendors Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) have already geared up to supply SoftBank with 5G equipment in Japan. SoftBank also had to promise to remove Huawei equipment -- used by Clearwire -- in Sprint's network as part of the $21.6 billion merger deal with the US operator in 2016. (See SoftBank & Huawei Demonstrate 5G Use Cases, Sprint, Softbank: No Huawei in Our Network and Surprise! Sprint Still Has Huawei in Its Network.)
President Trump is said to be friendly with SoftBank CEO, Masayoshi Son, of course. But then, he also trumpeted Broadcom's return to the US -- in an White House appearance with CEO Hock Tan in November 2017 -- and national security concerns still won out over that company's bid for Qualcomm. (See Son & Sprint Talk Mergers, Trump & 5G and SoftBank's Son & Trump: Marriage of Expedience.)
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading