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Qualcomm's former chairman Jacobs to leave board as he eyes buyout

Hannah Boland
Qualcomm acknowledged Paul Jacobs had told the group of his plans to make an offer - REUTERS

Qualcomm has decided not to renominate director Paul Jacobs to its board after it emerged yesterday that he is attempting to get support from investors for a buyout of the chipmaker.

"The board reached that decision following his notification to the board that he has decided to explore the possibility of making a proposal to acquire Qualcomm. The board will consist of 10 directors effective as of the holding of the annual meeting," it said.

Qualcomm's annual meeting will be held next week. It had been due to take place earlier this month, but was delayed by the US government pending a review of Broadcom's $142bn (£102bn) hostile takeover of the group.

That takeover, which would have been the largest tech deal ever, was blocked by US President Donald Trump on Monday.

However, a new potential bidder emerged just days later, in the form of Dr Jacobs. The Financial Times said he was contacting investors, including Japan's SoftBank, to seek backing for a management buyout.

The announcement on Friday, that Qualcomm was not putting Dr Jacobs forward for a board role, was the first acknowledgment from the group that he was making moves to buy it.

Dr Jacobs said it was "unfortunate and disappointing they are attempting to remove me from the board at this time".

However, he added that: “There are real opportunities to accelerate Qualcomm’s innovation success and strengthen its position in the global marketplace. 

“I am glad the board is willing to evaluate such a proposal, consistent with its fiduciary duties to shareholders."

Dr Jacobs, who had previously served as chief executive of the group and whose father co-founded Qualcomm, had served as its executive chairman until last week.

He stepped down from the post as part of Qualcomm's efforts to sway shareholders not to unseat its board in favour of Broadcom-nominated directors, which could have paved the way for the mega-takeover to progress, if the deal had not been blocked. 

Early counts of votes had shown many investors had opted to replace Dr Jacobs.

In a statement on Friday, Qualcomm said: "There can be no assurance that Dr Jacobs can or will make a proposal, but, if he does, the board will of course evaluate it consistent with its fiduciary duties to shareholders.

"The board is grateful to Dr Jacobs for his decades of service and for the commitment, experience and vision he has brought to that service."