Qualcomm bids $2.5bn for Bluetooth-chip maker CSR

October 16, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
Reuters reports that US-based Qualcomm has made a bid of (UK) £9 per share for Cambridge, UK-based CSR, a bid that appears to be agreed although not yet final.

CSR has been in an “open to offers” status since August, and it is reported that Microchip Technology engaged in negotiations, although its offer was rejected by the CSR board. The Qualcomm offer price is a premium of over 50% to CSR's share price prior to August – a level that is being interpreted as Qualcomm aiming to deter any possible rival bidders.

CSR (then 'Cambridge Silicon Radio’) was an offshoot of Cambridge Consultants (CCL) in 1999, at the time when it had become clear that a single-chip Bluetooth device was feasible, although the challenges of combining 2.4 GHz RF and baseband digital processing on a single die were considerable for – in particular – the EDA tools of 15 years ago.

In the race to produce such a chip, CSR was first to deliver, with its BlueCore 1 device. This was followed in fairly rapid succession by successive generations of single-chip radios, with the company adding WiFi, GPS (following its acquisition of SiRF Technology in 2009), a variety of voice and media processing solutions, and an automotive/infotainment platform, to mention only a selection of its diversifications. CSR has been a public company for 10 years.

Most recently, CSR has been active in adding mesh networking capability to the Bluetooth Smart standard, and Qualcomm’s determined bid is being interpreted both as an endorsement of Bluetooth as a – perhaps, the – radio standard to underpin the connected-everything or Internet of Things era; and of Qualcomm’s intent to be a major player in that space, to add to its leading presence in cellphone and smartphone chipsets.

CSR; www.csr.com

Qualcomm; www.qualcomm.com