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Trump blocks Broadcom deal over national security concerns

The Hill logo The Hill 3/12/2018 Harper Neidig
Donald J. Trump wearing a suit and tie © Provided by The Hill

President Trump on Monday blocked what would have been the biggest tech deal in history, saying the Singapore-based Broadcom's efforts at a hostile takeover of Qualcomm posed a threat to national security.

The announcement came just hours after Broadcom CEO Hock Tan met with officials from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) to make his case for the deal, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

CFIUS had launched an investigation into the national security implications of the deal last week over concerns that it would hamper U.S. efforts to develop 5G wireless networks and other emerging technologies. CFIUS on Monday recommended that the president veto the deal.

In an order released Monday night, Trump said he'd been presented with "credible evidence" by CFIUS that the transaction could threaten U.S. security.

In a letter to both companies' attorneys last week, the interagency panel said that it was concerned that Broadcom's takeover would put at risk U.S. efforts to build next-generation wireless networks, thereby giving Chinese firms the opportunity to take the lead.

"While the United States remains dominant in the standards-setting space currently, China would likely compete robustly to fill any void left by Qualcomm as a result of this hostile takeover," the letter reads. "Given well-known U.S. national security concerns about Huawei and other Chinese telecommunications companies, a shift to Chinese dominance in 5G would have substantial negative national security consequences for the United States."

In another letter released before Monday's meeting, CFIUS said that it's national security concerns had been "confirmed" and hinted that it would recommend to the president that he block the deal.

Broadcom did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday night, but in the past week it has been aggressively pushing back on concerns that it has any plans to hamper Qualcomm's research and development investments. It announced a $1.5 billion innovation fund, promised to build out Qualcomm's work in 5G and assured Congress that it would not sell any assets to foreign entities.

Trump's order comes just months after he stood alongside Tan in the White House as the Broadcom chief revealed that the company would be re-domiciling in the U.S. in what the administration touted at the time as a major jobs announcement. Broadcom made its unsolicited bid for Qualcomm a few days later.

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