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Qualcomm deal to acquire NXP cleared by EU regulator after patents commitment

Out-Law News | 22 Jan 2018 | 4:41 pm | 1 min. read

The European Commission has approved the proposed $47 billion takeover of Dutch semiconductor business NXP by US chip manufacturer Qualcomm.

The deal, which was also given the go-ahead by South Korea's Fair Trade Commission on Thursday, had been the subject of an in-depth review by the European Commission under the EU's Merger Regulation.

The European Commission's approval for the deal came after Qualcomm made commitments to address competition concerns that the regulator had expressed.

Some of commitments made relate to the licensing of NXP technology and trade marks, and maintaining interoperability between its chips and the near field communication (NFC) and secure element (SE) chips NXP produces. Further commitments concern patents owned by NXP.

The European Commission said: "Qualcomm offered to not acquire NXP's standard essential NFC patents. It also offered to not acquire certain of NXP's non-standard essential NFC patents. NXP will transfer these patents to a third party, which would be bound to grant worldwide royalty-free licenses to these patents for three years."

"Qualcomm would still acquire certain other NXP's non-standard essential NFC patents. However, Qualcomm committed, for as long as it owns these patents, not to enforce its rights against other companies; and to grant worldwide royalty-free licenses to these patents," it said.

Qualcomm and NXP announced that they had agreed a $47 billion takeover deal in November 2016. At the time it was reported as the largest ever transaction concluded in the semiconductor market. The merged business is expected to generate more than $30bn in annual revenues and have leading positions in several markets.

EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: "We use our smartphones for many different things and now also more and more as mobile wallets, to pay for public transport or make other secure payments. With this decision, we ensure that Qualcomm's takeover of NXP will not prevent consumers from continuing to enjoy the benefits of these innovative technologies at competitive prices."