US FTC files proposed settlement with Broadcom

A sign to the campus offices of chipmaker Broadcom Ltd is shown in Irvine
A sign to the campus offices of chipmaker Broadcom Ltd is shown in Irvine, California, U.S., November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

WASHINGTON, July 2 (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed a proposed order to settle antitrust charges against semiconductor maker Broadcom Inc (AVGO.O), the agency said in a statement on Friday.

The consent order requires Broadcom to stop demanding that its customers buy components mostly or only from Broadcom, the FTC said.

Broadcom said in a statement that it was pleased to resolve the matter. "While we disagree that our actions violated the law and disagree with the FTC's characterizations of our business, we look forward to putting this matter behind us," it said.

Broadcom reached a similar agreement with the European Commission in October 2020.

The FTC said that Broadcom had a monopoly in three kinds of chips used to make TV set-top boxes and broadband devices.

The commission vote to accept the settlement was 4-0 with Chair Lina Khan, who joined the panel in June, not participating.

Broadcom has become a major supplier of WiFi and Bluetooth chips to companies like Apple Inc . But the FTC complaint relates to an older segment of its business that deals with chips for wired communications, including television set-top devices made for television and broadband service providers such as AT&T Inc (T.N)and Verizon Inc (VZ.N).

Stacy Rasgon, an analyst with Bernstein, estimates that those chips provided about $2.5 billion of Broadcom's overall $23.8 billion in revenue for its most recent fiscal year.

In its statement, Broadcom said "the FTC investigation into our other businesses has been closed without action.”

Rasgon said that some investors had worried the FTC settlement offer "could be the tip of the iceberg" of a broader investigation, but that Broadcom's statement seemed to ally those fears.

"If one of the worries was the (larger) switching business would be next, then that seems to be safe now,” Rasgon said.

Reporting by Diane Bartz in Washington and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; additional reporting by Akanksha Rana; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Dan Grebler

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