NXP gets conditional US antitrust approval to buy Freescale Semiconductor

US antitrust regulators yesterday approved the $11.8-billion proposed acquisition of Freescale Semiconductor by NXP Semiconductors N.V. on condition that it sell its radio frequency power business.

The conditional approval comes a few months after the Korea Fair Trade Commission, the Japan Fair Trade Commission and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US approved the transaction.  The EC had approved the deal in September with the same condition.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had said that it is likely that the proposed merger would substantially lessen competition in the worldwide market for RF power amplifiers resulting in higher prices and reduced innovation.

''Freescale and NXP are the two largest manufacturers of RF power amplifiers, with a combined market share of more than 60 per cent based on revenues and given the substantial time and investment required to develop RF power amplifiers, entry sufficient to deter or counteract the anticompetitive effects created by the acquisition is unlikely,'' the FTC added.

NXP has agreed to sell all its assets that are used primarily for manufacturing, research, and development of RF power amplifiers to the Chinese private equity firm Jianguang Asset Management Co. Ltd.

These assets include a manufacturing facility in the Philippines, a building in the Netherlands to house management and some testing labs, as well as all patents and technologies used exclusively or predominantly for the RF power amplifier business, and a royalty-free license to use all other NXP patents and technologies required by that business.

The divestiture also includes all of NXP's RF power amplifier employees and managers. 

The Netherlands-based NXP and the Austin, Texas-based Freescale develop and manufacture semiconductor products for a wide range of electronic systems.

In March, NXP struck a deal to buy Freescale for $11.8 billion and create a merged company at valued at over $40 billion and become the biggest player in the automotive and industrial semiconductor markets.