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Qualcomm seeks to buy NXP for $39 billion

Confirming rumors, the world's dominant maker of wireless chips signs a deal to acquire fellow chipmaker in the largest semiconductor deal ever.

Claudia Cruz/CNET

Let the chipmakers fall where they may.

Qualcomm, the largest maker of semiconductors for the wireless market, signed an agreement Thursday to acquire NXP Semiconductors.

The deal, rumored since last month, is valued at $39 billion and is the largest ever among chipmakers according to The Wall Street Journal, coming in ahead of the $37 billion Avago paid for Broadcom last year. The largest pure tech deal ever was Dell's $60 billion acquisition of EMC.

"The NXP acquisition accelerates our strategy to extend our leading mobile technology into robust new opportunities," Qualcomm Chief Executive Steve Mollenkopf said in a statement. "By joining Qualcomm's leading SoC [system on a chip] capabilities and technology roadmap with NXP's leading industry sales channels and positions in automotive, security and IoT [internet of things], we will be even better positioned to empower customers."

"The two make a good combination," with largely complementary businesses that will ease acquisition difficulties, said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy.

The combined company is expected to have annual revenue of more than $30 billion, according to the announcement.

Qualcomm faces competition from Asian rivals, as well as Apple and Samsung, the two biggest companies in the phone industry, which have opted to use their own processors in many of their devices. Many smartphones now use NXP's NFC technology to power their mobile payment systems like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

First published October 25, 8:22 a.m. PT.
Update at 8:57 a.m.: Adds analyst comment.