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China dodges blame for Qualcomm-NXP merger demise

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China on Friday sought to deflect blame after US chipmaker Qualcomm dropped a merger with Dutch rival NXP over its failure to receive Chinese regulatory blessing, with Beijing saying it was still open to discussions.

[BEIJING] China on Friday sought to deflect blame after US chipmaker Qualcomm dropped a merger with Dutch rival NXP over its failure to receive Chinese regulatory blessing, with Beijing saying it was still open to discussions.

The unexpected statement came a day after the American tech giant called off the planned US$43-billion merger, which had failed to receive approval from Chinese antitrust authorities - an apparent casualty of ongoing trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.

The State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) said it "knows that Qualcomm and NXP have decided to abandon the transaction, and finds that regrettable".

"The results of our evaluation show that Qualcomm's latest plan cannot resolve competition issues... we hope to continue communicating with Qualcomm to find a solution within the review period."

It was not immediately clear whether the regulator's statement meant the deal could potentially be revived.

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The tie-up was aimed at creating a diversified chipmaker combining Qualcomm's dominant position in smartphones and NXP's foothold in the market for chips that power "internet of things" connected devices.

Chinese regulators said the deal would have created a virtual monopoly with "deep and far-reaching" consequences.

Qualcomm said it would pay NXP a US$2-billion break-up fee and begin a US$30-billion stock repurchase plan.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressed disappointment that the deal fell through but sidestepped questions on whether it was related to the standoff with China.

Officials in Beijing have also denied any link between the deal's collapse and China-US trade frictions.

The US has assessed tariffs on tens of billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods and is threatening further action. Beijing has imposed tit-for-tat tariffs too.

China has voiced long-term plans to boost innovation and growth in its own high-tech sector, a strategy aimed at challenging US dominance and reducing Chinese reliance on foreign chips and other technology.

AFP

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