What happened

Shares of NXP Semiconductors (NASDAQ:NXPI) fell 10.3% lower in April 2018, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. That's arguably an impressive move for a stock with a firm all-cash buyout offer on the table and just awaiting one last regulatory approval, but that's where the leader in automotive computing chips stands today.

So what

Netherlands-based NXP's merger with American chip giant Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) just needs one last thumbs-up from Chinese regulators before the deal closes. The companies had to resubmit that application for approval because the original request ran into a deadline that sounded more than achievable when the original announcement was made in October 2016. But the business combination has become a pawn in international politics as the Trump administration is saber-rattling toward Beijing, on the edge of starting a full-blown trade war.

Businessman scratches his head over two white chalk arrows on the wall ahead, pointing in opposite directions.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

If China nixes Qualcomm's game-changing deal for no other reason than scoring political points, it wouldn't be the first big-name casualty of these disputes. Smartphone and networking equipment giant ZTE recently closed up shop entirely, for example, due to a seven-year ban on buying American-made technologies such as Qualcomm's networking chips. So leaving NXP alone at the altar would not seem like a crazy outcome anymore.

NXP's share prices trend downward every time China and Trump make another move toward an all-out trade war, and there has been plenty of that lately.

If those moves stop someday soon, the merger would probably get rubber-stamped in a hurry, and NXP shares would suddenly catch up with Qualcomm's $127.50 buyout price per stub. But that's a big "if" at the moment.

Anders Bylund has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Qualcomm. The Motley Fool recommends NXP Semiconductors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.