According to Qualcomm, the acquisition of NXP had received antitrust clearance from eight of the nine required government regulatory bodies around the world, with the matter still pending in China - suggesting the takeover may be a collateral victim of US-China trade tensions. China was the lone holdout.
The Chinese Commerce Ministry declined on Thursday to comment on whether the deal was approved.
Qualcomm's experience suggests this could already be happening.
With the breakdown of the merger, Qualcomm will buy back as much as $30 billion in stock and pay NXP a $2 billion breakup fee.
Qualcomm has said it will scrap the agreement altogether rather than continue the uncertain fight toward a completed acquisition.
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"While we are disappointed the NXP merger was abandoned for the long-term operating business, at least now there is some strategic clarity", Cowen analysts wrote in a client note. Still, hopes had periodically risen in the last few months that Qualcomm would still get the deal done. Both NXP and Qualcomm have developed important innovative technologies used in mobile phones.
The following month, the Trump administration imposed a crippling ban on Chinese smartphone and telecommunications company ZTE, preventing it from buying crucial parts from American companies.
After the U.S. government struck a new deal allowing ZTE to resume business with American companies, there was hope that Beijing would approve the Qualcomm-NXP deal.
The company said on Wednesday that it expects Apple Inc (AAPL.O) to exclusively use modems from a rival - likely Intel Corp (INTC.O) - amid an acrimonious battle between the two companies over pricing and licensing costs. President Donald Trump then threatened to target an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese products.
However, confirmation by the two semiconductor companies is still pending at the time of publication of this news.
Qualcomm would have also strengthened its technological know how, which "would be a huge challenge or even risk for Chinese chipmakers and the domestic semiconductor industry of China", Lin added.