Qualcomm Co-Founder Irwin Jacobs to Retire From Board in March

Dec. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Qualcomm Inc., the biggest maker of mobile-phone chips, said co-founder Irwin Mark Jacobs will retire as a director.

The change will take effect at the 2012 annual stockholder meeting, the San Diego-based company said today in a statement. Jacobs, 78, was named founding chairman and chief executive officer emeritus. His son Paul Jacobs, 49, has been CEO since 2005.

Irwin Jacobs, a former professor with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, built Qualcomm into a pioneer of the wireless industry, licensing technology and providing chips and software to almost every other player, including Apple Inc. He acted as CEO from the 1985 founding until July 2005, and as chairman until March 2009 when Paul Jacobs assumed that role as well.

“Dr. Jacobs left the company in tremendous shape when he stepped down as acting CEO,” James Faucette, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities Inc., said in an interview. “Today, the company has a brighter future than at any point in its history.”

The annual meeting is set for March 21, the company said in a regulatory filing.

Qualcomm has continued to a grow sales and profits since Irwin Jacobs stepped down as chairman, except for lower results in the year ended in September 2009. Last month, the company forecast higher sales for fiscal 2012 than analysts had predicted, on demand for smartphones.

Qualcomm’s shares rose 4 percent to $54.11 at the close of Nasdaq trading, before Jacobs’s retirement decision was disclosed.

“I am immensely proud of the company we have built, its more than 22,000 employees, and the impact Qualcomm has made on the telecom industry and the lives of mobile users worldwide,” Jacobs said in a statement. “I leave knowing that Qualcomm’s strong management team and technical roadmap will ensure the Company’s continuing success.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Olga Kharif in Portland at okharif@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at Tgiles5@bloomberg.net