China's markets regulator says still reviewing Qualcomm: NXP deal

Visitors are seen by a booth of Qualcomm Inc at the China International Big Data Industry Expo in Guiyang, Guizhou province, China May 27, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer/Files

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s markets regulator said on Friday it is still reviewing Qualcomm Inc’s proposed $44 billion acquisition of NXP Semiconductors NV and is in talks with Qualcomm about ways to eliminate negative impact from the deal.

The State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) is conducting the antitrust review in a fair and open way, the regulator said in a faxed response to a Reuters request for comment.

Clearance for the takeover comes at a time of rising U.S.-China trade tension. People familiar with the matter have told Reuters that approval would depend on the progress of broader bilateral talks and the unwinding of a U.S. government ban on sales by U.S. companies to China’s ZTE Corp.

The Qualcomm merger of NXP has been approved by eight of nine required global regulators, with Chinese clearance the only one pending.

The U.S. chipmaker, which initially announced its bid for the Dutch semiconductor company in October 2016, refiled its application to Chinese authorities for the second time in April.

“SAMR is currently conducting an antitrust review of the case of Qualcomm’s equity acquisition of NXP, and is in discussions with Qualcomm on how to eliminate the negative effects created by this deal,” the regulator said.

“SAMR, in line with anti-monopoly law, will conduct this review openly, fairly and impartially,” it said.

Reuters reported on Sunday that Qualcomm was expecting to meet this week in Beijing with China’s antitrust regulators in a final push to secure clearance for the deal.

Qualcomm made its latest submission regarding the deal to SAMR early this week, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Reporting by Lusha Zhang and Matthew Miller; Writing by Elias Glenn; Editing by Clarence Fernandez