China's antitrust watchdog is set to approve Qualcomm's proposed acquisition of Dutch NXP Semiconductors valued at $44 billion, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing sources with knowledge of the development. Beijing is the last party required to greenlight the deal that would allow Qualcomm to diversify beyond smartphone chips in a much more aggressive manner and was initially announced in late 2016. The prolonged nature of antitrust reviews the tie-up was subjected to already annoyed Qualcomm investors to the point that many of them were prepared to sell the company to Broadcom before President Trump blocked the technology industry's largest ever proposed takeover initially valued at $121 billion.
Beijing is said to have accelerated its review of the NXP deal earlier this month, possibly as a precursor to its trade negotiations with Washington. The report claiming its competition regulator is now prepared to greenlight the merger comes less than a day after ZTE reached an agreement with the Trump administration over returning to business and replacing the Commerce Department's crippling seven-year denial order preventing it from purchasing American technologies with a string of concessions, including a $1.3 billion fine due to violations of U.S. trade sanctions on Iran and Korea, as well as subsequent failure to comply with the terms of a 2017 settlement meant to put an end to the matter.
China's State Administration for Market Regulation will be holding a meeting over the deal review on Monday after spending the weekend meeting with Qualcomm's legal representatives, as per the new report. The final details regarding concessions Qualcomm will agree to in order to see the consolidation approved should be agreed by then, with Beijing's official approval hence being expected to be officially announced next week. Besides the NXP acquisition, Qualcomm is planning to create additional shareholder value through new stock repurchases in the near future, the company said earlier this year. It's presently unclear whether its ousted Chairman Paul Jacobs is any closer to realizing his ambitions of taking the chipmaker private with a buyout, which is what industry insiders claimed he was seeking in March.