The Qualcomm-NXP drama continued Friday morning as conflicting reports about the status of China's antitrust probe into the matter started circulating the Western media. While Bloomberg claimed the deal has finally been approved after twenty months of uncertainty, citing half a dozen sources, Reuters dismissed that assertion several hours back, with its own trio of insiders maintaining they've heard nothing of the sort taking place. The deadline for the $44 billion tie-up has been extended yet again earlier today, having been moved by another week as it's now set to expire on Friday, June 22.
Beijing is speculated to be using its antitrust review of the proposed consolidation as leverage in its trade negotiations with the United States that are still going nowhere and may take a backseat to a full-blown trade war between the world's two largest economies after President Trump announced a 25-percent tariff on $50 billion of Chinese technologies earlier today. While ZTE's regulatory issues in the U.S. were also previously tied to the approval of Qualcomm's bid in an unofficial capacity, the uncertainty surrounding the telecom equipment maker still hasn't been dispelled as Congress may now be moving to oppose the President with a bipartisan push to reinstate a seven-year ban on purchasing American technologies imposed on the firm by the Commerce Department in April.
Qualcomm itself recently said it's hoping the fact that ZTE is returning to business will spell good news for the NXP bid but maintained it remains committed to its own application. Absorbing the Dutch NFC pioneer would provide Qualcomm with a much larger foothold in the automotive chip market and allow it to diversify further beyond smartphones where its revenues are being threatened by lawsuits from Apple and a number of other major clients who feel its patent licensing rates are unfair. If the ninth and final regulator with jurisdiction over the matter declines to approve the merger, Qualcomm will owe NXP a $2 billion breakup fee.