Broadcom Addresses Cfius Concerns

As the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States scrutinizes Broadcom Ltd. (AVGO) CEO Hot Tan's unsolicited bid for Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) , the hostile suitor touted its U.S. lineage and commitment to 5G wireless investment on Wednesday.

Shares of Action Alerts Plus holding Broadcom, which has made an unsolicited offer of $79 per share for Qualcomm, were down 1.4% to $247.46 on Wednesday morning. Qualcomm declined less than 0.1% to $62.09.

Cfius raised concerns about the impact Broadcom's hostile takeover would have on the U.S. leadership in wireless tech, national security and existing Federal contracts requiring security clearance, in a letter that Qualcomm made public Tuesday. 

Broadcom, which is based in Singapore but is changing its domicile to the U.S., sought to assuage the Cfius concerns by pointing to its heritage in domestic technology in a Wednesday statement. While pledging to invest in 5G technology, the company noted that its business includes pieces of legacy Hewlett Packard Co., AT&T Inc. (T) , Brocade Communications Systems Inc. and its namesake Broadcom Ltd. 

For instance, predecessor company Avago Technologies Ltd. had its roots in Agilent Technologies Inc. (A) , a 2000 spin off of Silicon Valley icon Hewlett-Packard. Silver Lake and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) bought Agilent's chipmaking operation for $2.66 billion in 2005 and renamed the business Avago. The next year, they hired CEO Hock Tan.

In 2014, Tan led Avago's $6.6 billion purchase of LSI Corp. which had ties to AT&T. LSI had purchased Agere Systems Inc., once part of Ma Bell's research and equipment arm Lucent Technologies Inc., for $6.6 billion in 2013.

Avaogo bought namesake chipmaker Broadcom for $37 billion in February 2016, ultimately taking name of the Irvin, Calif., company and creating a diversified semiconductor power.

The new Broadcom added to its data center products by acquiring Brocade for $5.9 billion, including assumed debt, in November 2017. Broadcom closed the deal just weeks after launching the hostile bid for Qualcomm.

Hock Tan has little incentive to drop the bid ahead of Qualcomm's April 5 sharheolder meeting, Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon suggested in a Wednesday report.

"[T]hrowing in the towel now might send a message that Broadcom's own faith in their forthcoming redomiciling action is wavering," Rasgon wrote, adding that the move is important not simply for purposes of the Qualcomm bid. "We do not believe the company can afford to give this impression, as they need to be free to buy other assets in the future even if they can't manage to buy this one."

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