Apple pays $1 billion for Intel unit in push for chip independence

(Reuters) – Apple Inc (AAPL.O) took a major step toward supplying its own smartphone chips by purchasing the majority of Intel Corp’s (INTC.O) modem business in a deal valued at $1 billion, the companies said on Thursday.

Under the deal, about 2,200 Intel employees will join Apple, along with intellectual property, equipment and leases. Combined with its existing portfolio, Apple will have 17,000 wireless technology patents, ranging from cellular communication standards to modems, making it a more powerful player in global licensing talks that will likely take place between major 5G patent holders such as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.

Intel shares rose 5.7% to $55.05 after the news and the company’s report that its earnings beat analysts’ expectations. Apple shares edged up 0.1% to $207.29.

After the deal, Intel will retain the right to develop modems for non-smartphone applications, such as PCs, industrial equipment and self-driving cars.

Modem chips connect devices like the iPhone to wireless data networks, but Apple has always relied on outside suppliers for the part. Intel positioned itself as the sole source of iPhone modem chips over the past year after Apple got into a prolonged legal fight with previous supplier Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) over Qualcomm patent licensing practices.

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