Intel is seen as the most likely buyer for Mindspeed's small cell assets, according to industry sources.
Mindspeed Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: MSPD) announced Tuesday evening that it is selling off most of its chip business to rival M/A-COM Technology Solutions Inc. for $272 million. A statement from the company said that it is in "advanced discussions" with a strategic acquirer for the wireless side of its business, which includes the small cell system-on-a-chip team it bought when it acquired Picochip in 2012 for $58.1 million. (See MACOM to Buy Mindspeed for $272M.)
Naturally, Light Reading wondered just who the buyer might be.
"You'd need a company in the communications business but not really in the wireless basestation space," suggests Linley Gwennap, analyst at The Linley Group . He suggests that the main players in the small cell chip space -- Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM), and Cavium Inc. (Nasdaq: CAVM) -- are already well sorted for silicon.
In fact, industry sources lean towards the idea that Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), which is just getting into the LTE modem market, is the likely buyer. "They were investors... and want to get into C-RAN [cloud radio access network]," one source tells us. (See C-RAN Blazes a Trail to True 4G.)
"Intel isn't commenting on the rumor," a spokeswoman for the chip giant told us.
Samsung Corp. is seen as the next most likely candidate. The South Korean giant already makes its own small cells and was an early customer of Picochip. (See Sprint Has Samsung 4G LTE Small Cells: Analyst.)
"Intel and Samsung seem to be getting into new markets recently," analyst Gwennap notes.
He also suggests Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (Nasdaq: MRVL) as an outside possibility. "Although they don't seem to be in an acquisition mood lately," Gwennap adds.
It might not be too long until we know for sure which company is -- or isn't -- snapping up Mindspeed's wireless assets. Mindspeed says it expects its efforts to find a buyer for its wireless business to continue in the coming weeks.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading