Samsung buys British chipmaker CSR, gains 21 patents and intellectual rights

By Lee Kaelin on July 17, 2012, 2:30 PM

Samsung has acquired the mobile-technology business (PDF) of UK-based semiconductor design company Cambridge Silicon Radio PLC (CSR) for $310 million, gaining 21 patents that could provide an edge in the smartphone and tablet market.

CSR specializes in the manufacturing of multi-platform semiconductor platforms for the automotive, camera, low-energy connectivity and wireless voice and music industries. Samsung will invest $34.4 million in a 4.9% stake of the UK business, in addition to purchasing its mobile phone connectivity and location technology team, with its full resources and 310 employees transferred to Samsung as part of the deal.

The patents in question are for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi interoperability, which Samsung will transfer into its name and license back to CSR royalty-free. Samsung has also been granted a worldwide, royalty-free non-exclusive license to use all of CSR's intellectual rights.

Samsung says the acquisition will increase the capacity of application processors powering its smartphone and tablet platforms. "By leveraging CSR's research and development capability, Samsung will strengthen its application-processor platform and solidify its position as a leading semiconductor solutions provider," Stephen Woo, Samsung's president of System LSI Business, Device Solutions told Reuters.

Woo believes the purchase will let the firm differentiate its mobile-chip business as it competes with rivals such as Qualcomm.

"This transaction will accelerate our transformation into a higher gross margin platform company operating in attractive growth markets where we have a leading market position. I believe that under Samsung's ownership the handset operations will be in better position to prosper in the global handset market," said Joep van Beurden, CEO of CSR.

CSR said it would give shareholders as much as $285 million following the deal's expected closure in the fourth quarter of 2012.




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