Qualcomm terminates NXP deal, will buy back $30 billion of stock

  • Qualcomm announced its intention to walk away Wednesday night when the company reported third-quarter earnings.
  • There was still a chance China's State Administration for Market Regulation, or SAMR, could make a last minute announcement to approve the merger before 11:59 pm ET.
  • Qualcomm is on the hook for a $2 billion breakup fee.
Steve Mollenkopf, chief executive officer of Qualcomm Inc., holds the new Snapdragon 835 chip during a keynote at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Steve Mollenkopf, chief executive officer of Qualcomm Inc., holds the new Snapdragon 835 chip during a keynote at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Qualcomm has formally terminated its proposed acquisition of chip rival NXP, ending a two-year courtship and paving the way for a $30 billion stock buyback, the company said Thursday morning.

“Our core strategy of driving Qualcomm technologies into higher growth industries remains unchanged," CEO Steve Mollenkopf said in a statement.

Shares of Qualcomm rose 5 percent in premarket trading Thursday. Shares of NXP were down about 8 percent.

Qualcomm announced its intention to walk away Wednesday night when the company reported third-quarter earnings, but there was still a chance China's State Administration for Market Regulation, or SAMR, could make a last minute announcement to approve the merger before 11:59 pm ET.

CNBC earlier reported Qualcomm understood the likelihood of that ninth and final regulatory approval to be very slim, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the company's discussions are private.

The expiration of the self-imposed deadline between Qualcomm and NXP leaves Qualcomm on the hook for a $2 billion breakup fee.

Qualcomm first offered to buy NXP, which is based in the Netherlands, for about $38 billion in October 2016, but faced resistance from some NXP shareholders, who were holding out for a better price. Qualcomm upped its bid to $44 billion in February, but the deal has been held up by Chinese regulators amidst a growing trade conflict between the U.S. and China centered around the Trump administration's imposition of tariffs on some Chinese manufactured goods.

The buyout could have helped Qualcomm, which provides chips to Android smartphone makers and Apple, expand into new market areas like automotive chips.

Earlier this year, Broadcom's attempt to buy Qualcomm was blocked by the Trump administration over national security concerns.

—CNBC's Sara Salinas contributed to this report.