Qualcomm Decides Not to Split Up

The chipmaker's CEO, Steve Mollenkopf, says "the current structure is the best way to execute on our strategy."
Katie Kuehner-HebertDecember 15, 2015

Qualcomm on Tuesday said that after reviewing its corporate and financial structure, its board of directors has decided not to split the company into a licensing business and chip design operation — contrary to the recommendations of an activist shareholder.

“The strategic benefits and synergies of our model are not replicable through alternative structures,” Qualcomm’s chief executive Steve Mollenkopf said in a press release. “We therefore believe the current structure is the best way to execute on our strategy to build on our position in the ecosystem and deliver enhanced performance and returns.”

The San Diego company had conducted the review at the behest of activist shareholder Jana Partners, which had disclosed more than $2 billion in Qualcomm holdings back in April.

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Jana has already pushed Qualcomm to make changes to its board, institute a restructuring of its operations, and announce a $11.3 billion stock buyback, according to Fortune. But the real value, Jana contended, was splitting the business. Jana believes that Qualcomm’s patent royalty business is worth more when separated from its chip design business.

“For others in the industry, paying Qualcomm royalties on patents that Qualcomm also used in its own chip designs (which the competitors also had to pay to license) was a tough sell,” Fortune wrote.

But the company’s board said that the combination of Qualcomm’s leading technology innovations and global semiconductor products enables the company to work more effectively to drive new technology and global sales.

Still, the plan includes limiting the focus of Qualcomm’s sales and R&D efforts to fewer areas, including mobile, small cells, automotive, data centers, and the Internet of things.

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