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Qualcomm, Inc. Decides Not to Split Up

By Ashraf Eassa – Dec 16, 2015 at 8:45PM

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After a four-month review, Qualcomm decides to keep its chip and licensing businesses together.

On Dec. 15, Qualcomm (QCOM -0.42%) announced it had completed its review of its corporate and financial structure. By way of background, it's important to note that the company has two major business units.

The first is Qualcomm CDMA Technologies, which develops chips that go into devices such as smartphones and tablets. The second is Qualcomm Technology Licensing, which, by way of its massive wireless patent portfolio, collects royalties on most of the 3G/4G capable devices sold. 

As part of this review, Qualcomm explored the possibility of splitting up these two businesses in order to enhance stockholder value. The company concluded that the "current corporate and financial structure best positions Qualcomm to maintain its technology leadership and product strength, so as to drive the greatest long-term stockholder value."

Let's take a closer look at what Qualcomm ultimately concluded, and how it reached those conclusions.

A very comprehensive review
In a presentation, Qualcomm said it performed a "robust review" of its current corporate and financial structure. The review was performed by the company's Board of Directors, management, external financial advisors, external legal advisors, as well as a third-party consulting group.

Management says they performed a "detailed review of [a] broad set of alternatives" and took into consideration a whole host of factors including strategy, business model, tax implications, and so on.

After all was said and done, Qualcomm's Board of Directors "came to a unanimous decision" to keep the company together.

What were the conclusions of the review?
According to Qualcomm, the research and development effort in its chip business "contributes to and expands [its] patent portfolio." In other words, chip development feeds directly into its licensing business.

Qualcomm also said that keeping the two businesses allows for "enhanced adoption of new technology/IP" by facilitating "early and broad adoption of Qualcomm technology across [a] global ecosystem and new industries."

Along those same lines, the company says that "fundamental [research and development] drives [Qualcomm's] technology roadmap," which allows the company to be "earlier to market with leading-edge products."

On top of all of that, the company says that by keeping the businesses together, Qualcomm is able to "work more effectively within standards bodies and with ecosystem partners."

Finally, the company argues that together, the businesses realize "significant annual cost savings in [research and development]" as well as "tax synergies from not having to operate two separate companies."

What does Qualcomm hope to achieve in the coming fiscal year?
Qualcomm says it hopes to exit the current fiscal year on an "improving financial trajectory." To achieve this, the company aims to do a number of things.

Firstly, management aims to sign new license agreements and "improve compliance with Chinese OEMs." Next, management aims to reduce its operating expenses by $1.4 billion in a bid to "right size the business." Of this $1.4 billion reduction, $600 million is expected to be realized during fiscal 2016.

Qualcomm also aims to execute to its product roadmap "across tiers" (from the low end all the way to flagship) to improve its competitive positioning. From a longer-term perspective, the company says it aims to "continue to invest in technology leadership that will drive growth" in its core business and allow it to expand into new markets.

Finally, in addition to maintaining a "constructive dialogue with regulatory bodies" (Qualcomm is being investigated by regulatory bodies in Taiwan, South Korea, and the EU), Qualcomm aims to "continue to return significant capital to stockholders." 

Ashraf Eassa owns shares of Qualcomm. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Qualcomm. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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