— The story could easily get more complicated. If Qualcomm rejects the Broadcom bid, it’s possible that another company could make a bid, said SDSU’s Varaiya.

Qualcomm investors have taken quite a ride in the last four years as the company stock price bounced up and down between $81.97 and $42.24. Shares touched $80 in 2014, an especially good year for revenue and profits. They plunged from the low $70s to the low $60s (then recovered) in January 2015, when China announced a $975 million antitrust fine. In January 2017, shares quickly fell from the $65 range to the $54 range as U.S. regulators filed an antitrust suit and Apple Inc. filed lawsuits in both U.S. and Chinese courts.

Qualcomm has had a tough year fighting antitrust allegations in several jurisdictions around the world. The legal battle with Apple centers, in part, on how much Qualcomm should charge to license its technology. Apple’s contract manufacturers and a second, unnamed manufacturer are withholding their payments to Qualcomm.

A Vulnerable Position

The company’s recent stock performance has left it in a vulnerable position, said Joel Weinstein, a partner and managing director at San Diego-based W Partners, which advises companies on mergers and acquisitions.

“Considering the company has directors that have been appointed by activist hedge fund Jana Partners, who are known to be very demanding shareholders, the inward push from the board level and outward pressure from shareholders will make an attractive offer difficult to resist,” Weinstein said.

Jana profited from an investment in Whole Foods Market, which Amazon.com Inc. snapped up.

Silver Lake Partners has committed to providing $5 billion in convertible debt financing to support the Qualcomm-Broadcom deal. Moelis & Co. LLC, Citi, Deutsche Bank, J.P. Morgan, BofA Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley are acting as financial advisers to Broadcom. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Latham & Watkins LLP are acting as legal counsel.

Qualcomm is midway through its acquisition of Netherlands-based NXP (which also owns the former Freescale Semiconductor business). Broadcom said its offer stands whether the NXP deal goes through or not.

More Layoffs?

Layoffs have been expected with the integration of Qualcomm and NXP. If Broadcom is successful in its bid, there could be more layoffs around the corner as a company with debt seeks to streamline and optimize operations.

News of a possible offer for Qualcomm came on a day when Broadcom said it planned to move its headquarters from Singapore to the United States — a move that could allay regulators’ fears about Qualcomm becoming part of an offshore company.

Broadcom is no stranger to mergers and acquisitions. The company, formerly based in Orange County, was purchased by Avago in a deal that closed in early 2016.

Qualcomm is saying little about the situation.

It issued a statement saying, in part, that its board and management “have continued to execute on its strategy to position the company for the next phase of profitable growth by making focused investments to extend its leadership in mobile into new opportunities, while maintaining financial discipline and a robust capital return program. Qualcomm has significant opportunities to drive substantial additional value for its shareholders as its technology and product roadmap move into new industries.”

Staff writer Sarah de Crescenzo contributed to this story.

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