Barely two weeks into the new year,
gave investors the latest sign that consolidation in the semiconductor industry is likely to continue well into 2021, by announcing its intent to acquire Nuvia for roughly $1.4 billion.
Qualcomm shares (ticker: QCOM) rallied on the news and closed up 1.9% to $157.42 in Wednesday trading.
Qualcomm’s reasoning for the acquisition isn’t immediately clear, but Barron’s is cautiously optimistic about the deal. The two-year-old Nuvia’s competitive advantage lies in its processor designs, which are largely based on technology developed by Arm Holdings. The company also boasts a talented roster of chip executives, who are credited with helping companies such as
(GOOGL) Google develop chips for various needs.
Nuvia has designed chips that are designed for cloud computing in a bid to challenge Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and
(INTC). Nuvia raised $240 million in its second funding round in September, and planned to start testing its chips this year. These days, designing and making even a single line of the most advanced chips can cost hundreds of millions in research and development costs—which is potentially where Qualcomm comes in.
Qualcomm dropped developing processors for the cloud two years ago, after a failed start. In the announcement, Qualcomm talked about Nuvia contributing to its mobile processor technology, especially in power efficiency, which Nuvia’s Arm-based processors are usually quite good at.
“Nuvia [central processing units] are expected to be integrated across Qualcomm Technologies’ broad portfolio of products, powering flagship smartphones, next-generation laptops, and digital cockpits, as well as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, extended reality and infrastructure networking solutions,” Qualcomm said in the announcement.
Qualcomm’s Nuvia acquisition comes amid upheaval in the chip industry. In what would be the largest deal in the industry, Nvidia made a $40 billion bid for Arm in 2020, which is currently backed by
(9984.Japan). Arm is a slightly different kind of chip company, designing the blueprints for semiconductors and then licensing them to companies such as Qualcomm. Arm’s designs power most of the world’s smartphones.
Last year, Advanced Micro Devices announced its plan to acquire
(XNLX) in an all-stock $35 billion deal.
(ADI) agreed to acquire Maximum Integrated Products for $20 billion, and in the fall,
(MRVL) said it planned to buy optical networking component maker Inphi for $10 billion.
Qualcomm stock has rallied over the past year, gaining more than 70% as the adoption of 5G mobile technology has rolled out across the world. The company has settled years of legal trouble, including a U.S. Federal Trade Commission antitrust case, and fended off an activist investor and hostile takeover bid.
Write to Max A. Cherney at [email protected]