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Qualcomm could buy Atheros today

Reported to be on the verge of agreeing $3.5bn takeover of Wi-Fi specialist


Published: 5 January, 2011

READ MORE: M&A | Atheros | Semiconductor | Wi-Fi

Qualcomm is reported to be on the brink of acquiring Wi-Fi semiconductor firm Atheros for about $3.5bn, which would be one of the San Diego company's largest ever purchases. The deal could be announced later today, according to insiders.

Atheros was a leading light in the Wi-Fi chip boom almost a decade ago, and unlike rivals like Intersil managed to survive and grow as an independent, despite the challenge from Broadcom and others. It will bring Qualcomm a range of patents, mainly related to advanced WLan - Atheros has been a major and sometimes controversial contributor to several Wi-Fi standards including the current high speed 11n platform and future efforts geared to ultra-fast speeds and to integration with powerline.

The smaller firm will also enhance Qualcomm's already important efforts to integrate many technologies tightly and power efficiently within a mobile device chipset. Atheros has been particularly active in low energy implementations of 11n, suited to cellphones, and in combining Wi-Fi and powerline connectivity for a flexible home solution.

Qualcomm usually makes its purchases for the sake of technological innovation and strong engineering teams, rather than primarily for revenue, and Atheros will be attractive on both counts. It also has respectable financial performance - revenue in the third quarter of 2010 hit a record $247.10, up 4% year-on-year.

More analysis to follow.

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