Skip to main content

Even if Broadcom   (AVGO) CEO Hock Tan convinces Qualcomm   (QCOM) and its shareholders to accept his $130 billion purchase, he'll have to win over regulators.

Broadcom's acquisition of Qualcomm would be the largest tech deal ever, and would combine overlapping businesses. Keep in mind that Broadcom said its deal would stand if Qualcom can close its $47 billion purchase of NXP International (NXPI) , so regulators could have to review an even larger bundle of semiconductor operations to review. 

Image placeholder title

Shares of Qualcomm gained 1.4% to $62.68 on Monday, after gaining 12.8% on Friday when reports of a deal surfaced. Shareholders stand to collect $70 per share, $60 in cash and $10 in Broadcom shares. Meanwhile, Broadcom rose 1.9% to $278.85 Monday. 

"There are a lot of entanglements, not the least of which is its WiFi division," Drexel Hamilton LLC analyst Cody Acree said of the overlap between the chipmakers.

"One of Broadcom's biggest assets is its leadership in combination solutions, WiFi-Bluetooth-GPS combination chips for smartphones and routers," Acree said. "Qualcomm is their biggest competitor in that space."

An obvious solution is to sell some of the businesses. 

Tan is accustomed to breaking off parts of acquired businesses, Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy noted. Broadcom has not yet closed its $5.9 billion of networking equipment maker Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (BRCD) , Moorhead observed. Yet the company agreed to sell Brocade's data center business for $55 million to Extreme Networks Inc. (EXTR) , in a deal that closed in October.

Samsung (SSNLF) or a private equity fund could take interest in the WiFi and Bluetooth businesses, if Broadcom put them up for sale.

The regulatory questions get more complicated if Qualcomm completes its purchase of NXP, however. 

"There is a tone of overlap between Broadcom and NXP," Moorhead said. "Particularly in automotive you look through [Broadcom's offerings in] powertrain, [advanced driver assistance systems], body electronics. That's what NXP does."

If a few surgical divestitures won't appease regulators, Broadcom could try something bolder -- such as breaking up Qualcomm's chip making business from its chip-technology licensing deal. Jana Partners pressed the company to break up in 2015, though Qualcomm ultimately decided to keep the business intact.

Breaking off the IP wireless could help Qualcomm resolve a nagging problems: an IP clash with Apple (AAPL) . Broadcom is also a larger Apple supplier. If the buyer split off the IP businesses, KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst John Vinh suggested in a note, Tan might persuade Apple to keep Qualcomm's baseband modems in its iPhones and iPads. Reports suggest Apple could give its baseband business to Intel (INTC) .

"We anticipate [Broadcom] would leverage its healthy relationship with Apple to make amends and settle the strife between [Qualcomm] and [Apple] by divesting [the IP licensing business] and would look to recover its baseband share in the iPhone, which is currently 50%," Vinh wrote. "In our view, [Qaulcomm]'s baseband is clearly superior and believe that Apple would look to source the majority of its BB from [Qaulcomm] if it weren't for the lawsuit."

Apple, Broadcom and NXP are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells AAPL, AVGO or NXPI? Learn more now.

More of What's Trending on TheStreet: