Qualcomm to buy WiFi chip giant Atheros for $3.1B

Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) agreed to purchase WiFi chipmaker Atheros for $3.1 billion, or $45 per share.

San Jose-based Atheros is known for its innovations with WiFi chipsets. Earlier this year the company teamed with Wilocity to make WiGig-WiFi chips, and it also has been exploring ways to combine WiFi with powerline systems.

The deal is the largest ever for Qualcomm, and is expected to close sometime in the first half of the year. The New York Times first reported on the tie-up late Tuesday. 

The acquisition would provide Qualcomm, the world's largest maker of cell phone chipsets, with a way to diversify beyond its core market into new growth areas such as tablets and smartphones, which require more processing power and must be able to connect via many different technologies besides cellular, such as WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS. The deal could also allow Qualcomm to compete more heavily with longtime rival Broadcom.

This isn't the first time Qualcomm has tried to get into the WiFi game. In 2006, the company purchased a WiFi chipmaker Airgo Networks.

Qualcomm is fresh off another big deal. In late December, the firm sold its 700 MHz spectrum that is uses for its soon-to-be-decommissioned FLO TV service to AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) for $1.925 billion.

 For more:
- see this release
- see this NYT article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this NYT article

Related Articles:
Atheros, Wilocity team for WiGig-WiFi chips
Atheros pushing WiFi/powerline combo for smart grid
AT&T buys Qualcomm's FLO TV spectrum for $1.93B

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