NXP Semiconductors sells China JV stake as Qualcomm takeover awaits Beijing nod

FILE PHOTO: A man works on a tent for NXP Semiconductors in preparation for the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 4, 2015. REUTERS/Steve Marcus/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) - U.S. chipmaker NXP Semiconductors NV NXPI.O, the target of a $44 billion takeover by Qualcomm Inc QCOM.O that is awaiting approval by Chinese anti-monopoly regulators, has sold its stake in a Chinese chip-design joint venture.

NXP sold its 40 percent of Suzhou ASEN Semiconductors Co Ltd to Taiwanese venture partner Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc 2311.TW for $127 million, according to a stock exchange filing on Tuesday.

The sale could potentially help ease competition concerns by lowering NXP’s exposure to the Chinese market as the country’s commerce ministry considers Qualcomm’s takeover bid.

Qualcomm has received approval from the other eight of nine required regulators to finalize its acquisition.

In January, NXP announced the end date for the transaction was extended to April 25, following multiple prior extensions.

A spokesman for NXP said the transaction was “part of the usual pruning of NXP’s asset portfolio,” and not related to the acquisition.

Qualcomm and the commerce ministry did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment on Wednesday.

Chinese regulators are considering the deal at a time of heightened trade tension between China and the United States over a proposed U.S. plan to introduce tariffs on imports from China, including in high-tech sectors.

Last month, the U.S. government blocked the acquisition of Qualcomm by Singapore's Broadcom Ltd AVGO.O, citing national security concerns and worries about China gaining the upper-hand in fifth-generation (5G) mobile network technology.

Reporting by Cate Cadell; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Christopher Cushing