Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Broadcom Says It's Under Antitrust Investigation by FTC

Broadcom Ltd. said it is under investigation by U.S. antitrust officials for potentially anticompetitive conduct.

The probe by the Federal Trade Commission is "immaterial" to the semiconductor maker’s business, Broadcom said in a statement Wednesday. The FTC declined to comment.

Broadcom has become one of the world’s largest chipmakers through a string of acquisitions over the past few years. The expansion has also made it one of the biggest providers of components for smartphones, including Apple Inc.’s iPhone. The company is seeking to extend that reach even further with a $105 billion hostile bid to purchase rival Qualcomm Inc., in what would be the biggest technology acquisition ever.

Broadcom said the FTC review has "no impact" on the proposal to buy Qualcomm, and isn’t related to the company’s wireless business. In resisting Broadcom’s offer, Qualcomm has said the deal would struggle to pass antitrust scrutiny, a contention that Broadcom disputes.

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that the FTC was looking into Broadcom’s customer negotiations. The agency last year sued Qualcomm, accusing the San Diego-based company of illegally maintaining a monopoly for semiconductors used in mobile phones and pocketing elevated royalties from customers.

Besides making components for smartphones, Broadcom is one of the biggest suppliers of chips to the communications industry, where its semiconductors play a key role in wired infrastructure. Its switch processors are used to send data around computer networks in data centers. San Jose, California-based Broadcom is also one of the largest providers of chips used in computer storage.

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