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European deals: Qualcomm scraps NXP bid; Telefónica sells stake in unit

S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a wrap-up of European media and communications deal announcements, completions and updates from July 23 to July 27.

TOP NEWS

* Qualcomm Inc. has dropped its bid to acquire Dutch firm NXP Semiconductors NV, a deal that Qualcomm CEO Steven Mollenkopf said faltered due to heightened regulatory risk in a "volatile" geopolitical environment. The U.S. chipmaker will instead redeploy $30 billion in capital earmarked for the NXP acquisition to a stock repurchase program, the majority of which will be executed by September 2019. The program replaces the company's existing $10 billion stock buyback authorization. Dutch chipmaker NXP said it was notified by Qualcomm about the proposed merger's termination, and that it will receive $2 billion in compensation. NXP President and CEO Richard Clemmer said the NXP board has authorized a $5 billion share repurchase program.

* Clemmer said NXP Semiconductors will not consider any more big acquisitions after its two-year bid to sell to Qualcomm fell through and left its management team "fatigued and tired" by the regulatory process, London's Financial Times reported July 26. Meanwhile, China's State Administration for Market Regulation said proposals from NXP and Qualcomm to solve antitrust concerns on their now-scrapped $44 billion merger were not sufficient, Reuters reported July 27, citing a statement. The regulator said it is open to continuing negotiations even after the two companies failed to get China's approval.

* Telefónica SA sold a 16.65% stake in its subsidiary Pontel Participaciones SL, which owns 60% of the share capital of Telxius Telecom SA, to a company of the Pontegadea Group for €378.8 million, or a price of €15.2 per share of Telxius. The Pontel stake sale is equivalent, in economic terms, to an indirect participation of 9.99% in the share capital of Telxius, the company said July 27. Telefónica, Pontegadea and Pontel also entered into a shareholders' agreement that regulates the relationship of Telefónica and Pontegadea as shareholders in Pontel.

M&A communications

* Infrastructure-focused private equity firm Antin Infrastructure Partners, based in London and Paris, acquired fiber-based telecommunications company FirstLight. The sellers were private equity firms Oak Hill Capital Partners, Novacap and Riverside Partners. FirstLight provides fiber-optic data, internet, data center, cloud and voice services to enterprise and carrier customers across the U.S. Northeast.

* Vodafone Group PLC unit Vodafone India and Idea Cellular Ltd. have paid over 72 billion Indian rupees to India's Department of Telecommunications, clearing a hurdle in their proposed merger, The Economic Times reported July 24, citing a confirmation from an Idea spokesperson. The payment has been reportedly made in cash amounting to 39.26 billion rupees and a bank guarantee of 33.22 billion rupees. The telcos had recently received a conditional nod to their merger from the DoT.

* China's state-owned chipmaker Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd. has signed a deal to acquire French smart chip components maker Linxens France SA from private equity firm CVC Ltd. for about €2.2 billion, five people with direct knowledge of the deal told Reuters.

* U.S. cable giant Comcast Corp. may hold an advantage over Walt Disney Co. and 21st Century Fox Inc. as the bidding war for British broadcaster Sky PLC escalates, analysts said. Comcast's cash offer of £14.75 per share, which values Sky at $34 billion, or £25.9 billion, is currently the highest on the table. The revised offer, which was hiked up from the original £12.50 per share bid that announced earlier this year, was announced just hours after Fox increased its offer to £24.5 billion.

* Accenture PLC said it made a minority investment in U.K.-based data intelligence company Ripjar Ltd. The two companies also entered into a strategic alliance that will expand Accenture Security's capability in automated analytics, data fusion and machine learning.

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