January 20, 2007 / 2:46 AM / 13 years ago

Qualcomm investors back legal fight: CEO

HANOI (Reuters) - Shareholders in wireless technology firm Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM.O) support the legal fights that have depressed their stock holdings and oppose a company split that may ringfence the risks, Chief Executive Paul Jacobs said on Friday.

The headquarters in San Diego of Qualcomm are seen in a file photo. Shareholders in wireless technology firm Qualcomm Inc. support the legal fights that have depressed their stock holdings and oppose a company split that may ringfence the risks, Chief Executive Paul Jacobs said on Friday. REUTERS/J. T. Lovette

“We have a very low turnover in our shareholder base. All those people are coming up to us and saying look, you know, we’ve just got to win this last battle. Keep fighting the fight,” he told Reuters in an interview.

Asked if the shareholders want the company, also a chip supplier, to stay as one entity, he said: “That’s their preference.”

Some of the world’s biggest wireless technology firms have complained to regulators that Qualcomm charges too much to license patents for third-generation equipment. Opponents in legal disputes include mobile phone firm Nokia NOK1V.HE.

Jacobs has previously raised the possibility of a splitting the firm in two to protect risk-averse shareholders from the legal issues.

“If that’s what we need to do that’s what we need to do, but the company actually works pretty well as it is,” he said on the sidelines of the APEC CEO summit in Hanoi.

Qualcomm dominates the market for CDMA wireless technology. Jacobs said a new type of high-speed, 3G standard technology, called OFDMA and developed by Flarion Technologies, which it bought this year, would start field trials at the beginning of 2007.

The chip set stage should take place in 2008 and “the beginning of 2009 will be the full rollout,” he said.

SKILL SHORTAGE

Scarcity of skilled staff has become a major issue for the company, which employs about 11,500 people, mostly in high-paying engineering jobs, said the 44-year-old executive who joined the firm in 1990 as a development engineer.

He said the scarcity should not affect future growth “but it certainly affects the bottom line in the sense that we are probably spending 20 percent of revenue right now on R&D.”

In Vietnam, where Qualcomm has an equity stake in the country’s first manufacturer of CDMA handsets, Jacobs said the prospects for cellphone growth are strong.

“The market here is relatively low penetration at this point so there’s a good opportunity for very significant growth as the price of handsets comes down and the price of services comes down.”

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