Intel is rumoured to be sniffing around Broadcom, targeting a takeover in response to the perceived threat of a successful Broadcom-Qualcomm acquisition - and in doing so would itself become the owner of both companies, plus NXP Semiconductor.
Broadcom first telegraphed its intention to acquire significantly larger competitor Qualcomm in late 2017 with an unsolicited bid worth, at the time, nearly £100 billion. The offer was quickly rejected, but that wasn't enough to put Broadcom's Hock Tan off: A hostile takeover attempt followed, and the pair have been dancing back and forth ever since.
Now, though, sources speaking to the Wall Street Journal have thrown another name into the ring: Intel, which is claimed to be considering the potential Broadcom-Qualcomm merger a direct threat and is looking to head the issue off at the pass by buying Broadcom lock, stock, and barrel.
The unnamed sources have claimed that Intel has been investigating a purchase of Broadcom for around a year, before its intentions towards Qualcomm were made public; since Broadcom's offers for Qualcomm, though, the deal has been given a new sense of urgency. At least, that would be the case if the deal exists: Intel, naturally, has refused to comment on what it describes as rumours and speculation, while both Qualcomm and Broadcom have been silent on the matter.
If the deal went ahead, though, it would be hard to see Intel avoiding being broken up: The company already enjoys a comfortable majority market share in mainstream and server processors, and ownership of Broadcom - even if Qualcomm didn't come along for the ride - would give it the in to the mobile market for which it has been desperately searching.