Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) buyout of NXP Semiconductors (NASDAQ:NXPI) keeps inching closer and closer to completion. There are very few roadblocks left, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the final papers signed well ahead of the stated "end of 2017" deadline.

Puzzle pieces representing Qualcomm and NXP.

Image sources: NXP, Qualcomm, and Getty Images. Edited by the author.

What's new?

The merger process has taken several small steps forward recently.

Last week, Qualcomm extended the deadline for its tender offer to buy all NXP shares by another month. The portion of shares properly tendered fell to 16.3%, down from 17.2% in early March. The tender offer is now set to expire after the market close on Tuesday, May 2, though Qualcomm is likely to simply sign another extension if necessary.

Thrown in as an aside to the tender offer extension, Qualcomm also announced that the deal's waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino act had expired. No antitrust objections had been raised, so that's the end of one potentially troublesome stumbling block. The Federal Trade Commission officially has no beef with this proposed deal.

The list of closing conditions is down to a handful of regulatory approvals, mostly in China and the European Union. The ratio of tendered shares also needs to rise above 80%, but that's likely to happen in a flash once all of the regulatory conditions have been met. Shareholders of both companies have already approved the deal terms with an overwhelming majority, leaving little doubt that investors will follow through when the regulatory coast is clear.

High-tech car concept.

Image source: Getty Images.

NXP also gave Qualcomm a friendly reminder of what the larger company is getting out of this deal. The company just signed a cooperation agreement with China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, forming the basis of a multiyear research partnership on self-driving car technologies. Under that deal, NXP holds the coveted title of Official Pilot Company for smart car development in China.

Qualcomm stands ready to take over that designation, of course. NXP's press release points out that self-driving cars are expected to make up two-thirds of the Chinese automobile market as early as 2023. Getting a foot in the door early could give Qualcomm -- sorry, NXP -- preferred access to the world's largest vehicle market.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.