Big-Money Acquisitions Increasingly Difficult

Article By : Dylan McGrath, EE Times

Recent failed takeover bids highlight regulatory complexities

SAN FRANCISCO — The era of mega-consolidation that the semiconductor industry has been engulfed in over the past few years may have reached a peak, at least in terms of the size of deals, according to market research firm IC Insights.

In light of the recent cancelation of Qualcomm’s $44 billion acquisition of NXP Semiconductors, it appears that increasing government regulatory scrutiny, the complexity of high-dollar deals and the escalation of trade wars are combining to put a ceiling on the size of semiconductor merger deals — at least for now — according to the firm.

“It is becoming less likely that semiconductor acquisitions over $40 billion can be completed or even attempted in the current geopolitical environment and brewing battles over global trade,” IC Insights said in a press statement.

Of the 10 largest acquisitions of chipmakers by chipmakers ever announced, eight occured in the last three years, including the ill-fated Qualcomm-NXP deal, IC Insights noted.

List of the biggest semiconductor acquisition announcements

Last month, Qualcomm canceled the acquisition of NXP after failing to gain the approval of China’s Ministry of Finance in the nearly two years since the deal was first announced in October 2016. Earlier this year, U.S. President Donald Trump blocked Broadcom from a $117 billion hostile takeover attempt of Qualcomm over concerns that the U.S. could lose cellular technology leadership to Chinese companies.

IC Insights estimates that the total value of semiconductor industry mergers and acquisitions in between 2015 and the middle of 2018 totaled $245 billion, including a record $107.3 billion in 2015. In the first half of this year, the firm estimates that semiconductor deals were worth $9.6 billion.

— Dylan McGrath is the editor-in-chief of EE Times.

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