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IoT

Synaptics snaps up Broadcom wireless IoT business

Synaptics unveiled plans to buy the wireless Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity business of semiconductor maker Broadcom in an all-cash transaction valued at $250 million.

Specifically, the "human interface" technology specialist known for products such as fingerprint pads on smartphones and laptop mouse touchpads is acquiring "certain assets and manufacturing rights," including rights to Broadcom's existing Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS/GNSS products and business in the IoT market as well as future "roadmap devices" designed in advanced process nodes.

Synaptics said the acquisition will strengthen and accelerate its position in the consumer IoT market, and it expects the deal to add about $65 million in annual sales to its books. The deal is set to close in the first quarter of 2021.

Michael Hurlston, president and CEO of Synaptics, said the expansion of its IoT offering "has been one of the major focus areas" for the company, noting that it would shore up Synaptics' ability to sell into devices such as IP cameras, smart displays, speakers, home automation and gaming consoles.

According to Silicon Valley Business Journal, Synaptics shares rose 2.1% higher in after-hours trading on Tuesday, while Broadcom's stock was flat. The report also noted that Broadcom, known as an aggressive and prolific dealmaker, has more commonly been the acquirer in transactions.

However, Broadcom did recently offload part of the Symantec assets that it acquired as recently as November for the sum of $10.7 billion. The chipmaker sold the cybersecurity business to Accenture, asserting that this part of the Symantec business did not fit with its plans.

In March, Broadcom was reported to have decided not to sell its radio-frequency wireless chip business after landing a major, multi-year deal with its largest smartphone customer. It had been reported it was seeking to sell its RF unit for up to $10 billion, with suggestions that one of its largest customers, Apple, could be a likely buyer.

In addition to its RF chips and Wi-Fi/Bluetooth chips businesses, Broadcom has a third wireless businesses that produces mixed-signal custom products sold mostly to one large smartphone customer (believed to be Apple).

The sale to Synaptics actually marks the second time that Broadcom has sold off its "wireless IoT business." The company sold off its then-wireless IoT business to Cypress Semiconductor in 2016 for $550 million. As AnandTech pointed out, "while Broadcom doesn't seem to have much interest in keeping its IoT businesses, the company seems to have found a niche in growing them to sell off."

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— Anne Morris, Contributing Editor, Light Reading

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