More M&A: There are media reports that 21st Century Fox is in talks to sell much of its business to Disney, hanging on to its news and sports holdings, citing a need for ‘scale’ and the lack of acquisition opportunities in entertainment
The FCC is about to over turn the decades old rules on media ownership which will have a profound impact on the reading public. The major trade associations are all for it, of course, though I really don’t think they have thought through all the ramifications of consolidated ownership, especially on their own associations (giant corporations rarely make good association members).
The deal would essentially create a monopoly in the high-end smartphone chip area.
Qualcomm is said to be not terribly happy with the terms of the deal, but due to their ongoing dispute with Apple, may decide that the timing is right for a sell out. Their only statement was that the “Qualcomm Board of Directors, in consultation with its financial and legal advisors, will assess the proposal in order to pursue the course of action that is in the best interests of Qualcomm shareholders.”
As for Broadcom, CEO Hock Tan has already made sure Donald Trump will be amenable by giving him a tiny win when the president announced Broadcom would move its headquarters from Singapore to the US. It was a transparent play on Broadcom’s part, but there is little subtlety in the Trump administration, and very few opportunities to claim a win.
A merger like this one would never have been approved a few years ago, but we have entered new territory in the US, with giant companies having a friend in the White House… so long as they are willing to butter up the president. But, to repeat, the clock in ticking. Anyone who wants to strike a deal like this one may have to do so fairly quickly.
Update: CNBC is reporting that Disney is in talks to possibly acquire much of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. Murdoch would hang on to the news and sports assets as he believes there is a need for ‘scale’, but a lack of acquisition opportunities in entertainment.
Murdoch is, of course, trying to complete his acquisition of Sky, but is running into a few problems. Just today, for instance, Ofcom concluded that Fox News programs featuring Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson violated impartiality rules. Murdoch needs the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority to approve the Sky deal to fulfill his long held dream of bringing his brand of tabloid journalism the Europe. But he just can’t seem to keep his brands out of the news. Should he completely control the news, of course, this will no longer be a problem.
Here is the announcement from Broadcom:
SAN JOSE, Calif. — November 6, 2017 — Broadcom Limited, a leading semiconductor device supplier to the wired, wireless, enterprise storage, and industrial end markets, today announced a proposal to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) (“Qualcomm”) for per share consideration of $70.00 in cash and stock.
Under Broadcom’s proposal, the $70.00 per share to be received by Qualcomm stockholders would consist of $60.00 in cash and $10.00 per share in Broadcom shares. Broadcom’s proposal represents a 28% premium over the closing price of Qualcomm common stock on November 2, 2017, the last unaffected trading day prior to media speculation regarding a potential transaction, and a premium of 33% to Qualcomm’s unaffected 30-day volume-weighted average price. The Broadcom proposal stands whether Qualcomm’s pending acquisition of NXP Semiconductors N.V. (“NXP”) is consummated on the currently disclosed terms of $110 per NXP share or the transaction is terminated. The proposed transaction is valued at approximately $130 billion on a pro forma basis, including $25 billion of net debt, giving effect to Qualcomm’s pending acquisition of NXP on its currently disclosed terms.
“Broadcom’s proposal is compelling for stockholders and stakeholders in both companies. Our proposal provides Qualcomm stockholders with a substantial and immediate premium in cash for their shares, as well as the opportunity to participate in the upside potential of the combined company,” said Hock Tan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Broadcom. “This complementary transaction will position the combined company as a global communications leader with an impressive portfolio of technologies and products. We would not make this offer if we were not confident that our common global customers would embrace the proposed combination. With greater scale and broader product diversification, the combined company will be positioned to deliver more advanced semiconductor solutions for our global customers and drive enhanced stockholder value.”
Tan continued, “We have great respect for the company founded 32 years ago by Irwin Jacobs, Andrew Viterbi and their colleagues, and the revolutionary technologies they developed. Following the combination, Qualcomm will be best positioned to build on its legacy of innovation and invention. Given the common strengths of our businesses and our shared heritage of, and continued focus on, technology innovation, we are confident we can quickly realize the benefits of this compelling transaction for all stakeholders. Importantly, we believe that Qualcomm and Broadcom employees will benefit from substantial opportunities for growth and development as part of a larger company.”
Thomas Krause, Broadcom Chief Financial Officer, added, “The Broadcom business continues to perform very well. Broadcom has completed five major acquisitions since 2013, and has a proven track record of rapidly deleveraging and successfully integrating companies to create value for our stockholders, employees and customers. Given the complementary nature of our products, we are confident that any regulatory requirements necessary to complete a combination with Qualcomm will be met in a timely manner. We look forward to engaging immediately in discussions with Qualcomm so that we can sign a definitive agreement and complete this transaction expeditiously.”
Strategic and Financial Benefits
- Creates a Leading Diversified Communications Semiconductor Company: Qualcomm’s cellular business is highly complementary to Broadcom’s portfolio, and the combination will create a strong, global company with an impressive portfolio of technologies and products.
- Accelerates Innovation to Deliver More Advanced Semiconductor Solutions to Global Customers: As a result of enhanced scale, reach and financial flexibility, the combined company will benefit from the ability to accelerate innovation and deliver more advanced semiconductor solutions to its broad global customer base.
- Compelling Financial Benefits: The combined company will have an enhanced financial profile, benefiting from Broadcom’s proven operating model with industry-leading margins. The combined Broadcom and Qualcomm, including NXP, will have pro forma fiscal 2017 revenues of approximately $51 billion and pro forma 2017 EBITDA of approximately $23 billion, including synergies. The transaction is expected to be accretive to Broadcom’s Non-GAAP EPS in the first full year after close.
The combined company is expected to have an investment grade credit rating and strong cash flow generation to facilitate rapid deleveraging.
Approvals and Financing
Broadcom’s proposal was unanimously approved by the Board of Directors of Broadcom. Broadcom is prepared to engage immediately in discussions with Qualcomm to work toward a mutually acceptable definitive agreement and is ready to devote all necessary resources to finalize the necessary documentation on an expeditious basis.
The proposed transaction will not be subject to any financing condition. BofA Merrill Lynch, Citi, Deutsche Bank, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley have advised Broadcom in writing that they are highly confident that they will be able to arrange the necessary debt financing for the proposed transaction. Silver Lake Partners, which has served as a strategic partner to Broadcom in prior transactions, has provided Broadcom with a commitment letter for a $5 billion convertible debt financing in connection with the transaction.
Broadcom expects that the proposed transaction would be completed within approximately 12 months following the signing of a definitive agreement.
As previously announced on November 2, 2017, Broadcom intends to redomicile to change the parent company of the Broadcom corporate group from a Singapore company to a U.S. corporation.
Letter to Qualcomm
The full text of a letter sent to Qualcomm is below.
November 6, 2017
Board of Directors
5775 Morehouse Drive
San Diego, CA 92121
Dear Members of the Board of Directors:
On behalf of Broadcom, I am pleased to submit this proposal to acquire Qualcomm in a transaction that will provide Qualcomm stockholders with an immediate, substantial and compelling premium to the value that would be achievable by Qualcomm on a standalone basis, as well as the opportunity to participate in the upside potential of the combined company.
As you know from prior discussions between our two companies, Broadcom has been interested for some time in combining Qualcomm’smobile business with the Broadcom platform. We continue to believe that such a combination will deliver substantial benefits to our respective stockholders, employees, customers and other stakeholders. We are hopeful that you will agree that the proposal we outline in this letter presents a compelling opportunity for Qualcomm stockholders to realize both present and future value for their Qualcomm shares.
We have great respect for the legacy Qualcomm has built since its founding more than 30 years ago by Irwin Jacobs, Andrew Viterbi and their colleagues. Based on our knowledge of the semiconductor industry, we believe that there is a significant strategic, financial and operational rationale for the proposed transaction. A combination of Qualcomm and Broadcom will create a strong, global company with an impressive portfolio of industry-leading technologies and products. Given the highly complementary nature of our businesses, we are confident that our global customers will embrace the proposed combination as we work strategically with them to deliver more advanced value-added semiconductor solutions.
Since I discussed a combination with Steve in August of last year, Broadcom has successfully completed the integration of the Broadcom-Avago combination, de-levered its balance sheet and meaningfully increased revenues and profitability. As a result, Broadcom stockholders have been rewarded with a 55% appreciation in Broadcom’s stock price since that time, ranking in the top 10% among the S&P 500 over that period. We believe these factors, coupled with our history of successful acquisitions and integrations, clearly demonstrate our commitment and ability to implement value-enhancing transactions and deliver robust results for stockholders, employees, customers and other stakeholders.
We are offering Qualcomm stockholders $70.00 per share, consisting of $60.00 per share in cash and $10.00 per share in Broadcom shares. This represents a significant premium of 28% to the closing price of Qualcomm common stock on November 2, 2017, the last unaffected trading day prior to media speculation regarding a potential transaction, and a premium of 33% to Qualcomm’s unaffected 30-day volume-weighted average price. Our proposal stands whether your pending acquisition of NXP is consummated on the currently disclosed terms of $110 per share or that transaction is terminated.
Our proposal will enable Qualcomm stockholders to achieve both immediate cash value and the ability to participate in the future success of the combined enterprise, which will benefit from greater scale and broader product diversification. The combination of our two companies and associated synergies will be accretive to Broadcom’s earnings, which will directly benefit Qualcomm stockholders through their equity ownership in the combined company. We have significant experience with acquiring and integrating companies and an established track record of delivering financial results for our stockholders. I am confident that we can deliver similar results for our combined stockholders should we consummate this transaction.
The proposed transaction will not be subject to any financing condition. BofA Merrill Lynch, Citi, Deutsche Bank, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley have advised us in writing that they are highly confident that they will be able to arrange the necessary debt financing for the proposed transaction. Silver Lake Partners, which has served as a strategic partner to Broadcom in prior transactions, has provided Broadcom with a commitment letter for a $5 billion convertible debt financing in connection with the transaction. We also expect to maintain our investment grade credit rating following the proposed transaction. We and our advisors are available to review our financing plans with you at your convenience.
We and our advisors have conducted extensive analysis of the regulatory approvals that will be required in connection with the proposed transaction, and we are confident that the transaction will receive all necessary approvals in a timely manner. We would not make this offer if we were not confident that our common global customers would embrace the proposed combination, and we do not anticipate any material antitrust or other regulatory issues that would extend the normal timetable for closing a transaction of this nature.
We have a long history of providing outstanding opportunities for leadership and growth to employees, including business unit leaders, of companies we acquire. Employees who have joined our company as a result of acquisitions have become an integral part of our business, and we look forward to the opportunity to welcome Qualcomm’s employees to Broadcom.
We believe that our proposal represents the most attractive, value-enhancing alternative available to Qualcomm stockholders, and that it is in the best interests of both parties to proceed as soon as possible to reach agreement on a transaction structure and terms. We are ready to devote all necessary resources to finalize all documentation on an expeditious basis. We and our advisors are prepared to engage in discussions immediately to work toward a mutually beneficial transaction.
We look forward to working with you to complete this transaction successfully and suggest that our respective financial and legal advisors and senior management team meet at your earliest convenience to work toward this goal.
This letter does not constitute a binding obligation or commitment of either company to proceed with any transaction. No such obligations will in any event be imposed on either party unless and until a mutually acceptable definitive agreement is formally entered into by both parties.
/s/ Hock Tan
President and Chief Executive Officer