What happened

Shares of Qualcomm (QCOM -1.05%) fell 14.8% in March 2018, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. It was a rocky month with dramatic turns in two different buyout deals involving Qualcomm.

Businessman balancing on a tightrope over a computer-rendered cityscape.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

First, Singapore-based rival Broadcom (AVGO -0.53%) did its best to gain regulatory approvals and win a hotly contested shareholder vote to close its hostile takeover bid of Qualcomm, including an accelerated timeline for Broadcom's legal domicile moving out of Singapore and into Delaware. Then the Trump administration issued an executive order to stop that deal in its tracks; Qualcomm shares closed 5% lower the next day on that news because investors saw it more as a lost value-building opportunity than a welcome intervention.

Meanwhile, investor support for Qualcomm's pending buyout of NXP Semiconductors (NXPI -0.71%) rose from 1.5% to 19% thanks to a revised contract that raised Qualcomm's payment per share from $110 to $127.50. But that boosted shareholder interest started to fade again when the Broadcom deal was deep-sixed, and now stands at 16.1%. Investors don't like uncertainty, so that's another lead weight on Qualcomm's (and NXP's!) share prices.

Now what

Qualcomm and NXP are still waiting for final regulatory approval from China, which gets the final say in a deal between an American buyer and a Dutch target because the companies do a lot of business in and through the Far East. And that hurdle seems steeper than ever in an era of rising trade tensions between the U.S. and China. So Broadcom's bid is out and won't be back, but the NXP deal remains unpredictable.

Qualcomm has invested too much time and effort into the NXP merger to let that opportunity slip this close to the goal line. But the Chinese regulators will make Qualcomm sweat over this deal, and I can't wait to see the list of concessions China is forcing the companies to make. Some of those tweaks could be game-changers, so Qualcomm's real value is up in the air until further notice.