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Mar 14, 2018

Broadcom ends Qualcomm bid; Trump's block an infrastructure concern

Lacavera: 5G is North America's next critical infrastructure project

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Singapore-based Broadcom Ltd (AVGO.O) withdrew its US$117 billion bid to acquire Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) on Wednesday, two days after U.S. President Donald Trump blocked the attempt citing national security concerns.

The company said it has also withdrawn its slate of independent director nominees for Qualcomm's annual shareholder meeting.

Broadcom, however, expects to continue with its plan to redomicile to the United States.

"Although we are disappointed with this outcome, Broadcom will comply with the order," the chipmaker said.

One prominent voice in Canada’s wireless landscape – Wind Mobile founder Anthony Lacavera – told BNN on Wednesday that western democracies are most interested in the impact 5G technology, and the companies rallying to get behind it, will have from an infrastructure perspective.

"It’s very strategic from a national infrastructure perspective,” the Globalive chairman told BNN in an interview. “[It's] creating a problem for western administrations, in the case of Trump, to allow a transaction like that.”

“It’s all coming from this idea that this is going to be core infrastructure, as important as roads, as important as electricity, as important as water. You’ve got to think about your entire economy running on a 5G network with all connected devices.”

Lacavera pointed to the importance of signal speed in self-driving cars as one reason why an upgrade to 5G is a necessary technological step moving forward.

“Think about an autonomous vehicle navigating a city. You wouldn’t want even a one-second delay for an autonomous vehicle to get a signal that a pedestrian has stepped on the road, or something like that,” Lacavera told BNN. “You can’t have a delay.”

Sources had told Reuters on Tuesday that Broadcom was ready to scrap its bid for Qualcomm.

Broadcom's board met late on Tuesday to formalize plans to move its base to the United States, at a cost of about US$500 million a year under a higher tax rate, the sources said.

Being based in the United States as opposed to Singapore should make it easier for Broadcom to make acquisitions of U.S. companies without falling under the jurisdiction of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

Shares of Qualcomm rose 42 U.S. cents, or 0.7 per cent to US$60.12 in Wednesday trading, while Broadcom shares lost 63 U.S. cents, or 0.24 per cent, to close at US$260.59.

- with files from BNN