$800 MILLION FEEDING FRENZY: Wall Street banks stand to make a fortune from a tech deal spree

When it's all said and done, banks could net more than $1 billion in fees from the deal spree.

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When it’s all said and done, banks could net more than $1 billion in fees from the deal spree.
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The Wolf of Wall Street/Paramount Pictures

    Broadcom’s record-breaking $130 billion bid for rival chipmaker Qualcomm could earn banks as much as $280 million in advisory fees. Qualcomm is set to reject the unsolicited offer, according to several reports. Wall Street bankers have been on a feeding frenzy orchestrating transactions for a handful of tech chipmaking firms. If pending deals gain approval, bankers will have earned a payday of as much as $790 million in advisory and debt financing fees from four takeover transactions since 2015. The deal spree has been especially lucrative for a handful of banks, with JPMorgan working on three of the four deals.

Broadcom just unloaded a record-breaking $130 billion bid for fellow semiconductor giant Qualcomm.

If completed, it would be the largest tech takeover of all time – and could net the companies’ investment bankers a massive payday of as much as $280 million in advisory fees. Qualcomm is reportedly planning to reject the offer.

This isn’t the first mammoth transaction Wall Street bankers have orchestrated involving these two firms. Qualcomm was in the middle of trying to buy NXP Semiconductor’s for $47 billion – which also would be one of the largest deals of all time – before Broadcom crashed the party and said it would buy Qualcomm, with or without NXP.

In fact, bankers have been bingeing on lucrative M&A deals involving Broadcom, Qualcomm, and NXP over the past three years.

The feeding frenzy so far, including the pending transactions, involves four deals since 2015 worth $230 billion. The deals could trigger as much as $790 million in fees for the Wall Street firms running the deals, according to according to Jeffrey Nassof, director of consulting firm Freeman & Co.

That figure includes financing fees – except for the just-announced Broadcom for Qualcomm deal – which adds $210 million to the tally. Broadcom could reportedly require as much as $90 billion in debt to close the deal, which means the total amount of advisory and financing fees paid out to banks could surpass $1 billion.

In many cases, the same banks have advised on multiple transactions. JPMorgan advised Broadcom on its deal with Avago, signed on to help finance Qualcomm’s deal for NXP Semiconductors, and is part of the financing team for Broadcom’s bid for Qualcomm.

Here’s a breakdown of the transactions, as well as how much bankers earned in advisory fees:

March 2015: NXP buys Freescale Semiconductor – $16.7 billion

Announced in March of 2015 and completed later that year in December.

Dutch chipmaker NXP was advised exclusively by Credit Suisse, which also provided financing for the transaction along with several other banks. Credit Suisse earned $25 million in fees for advising on the deal, and a share of the $35 million fee for arranging $5.3 billion in debt financing, according to according to Jeffrey Nassof, director of consulting firm Freeman & Co.

Morgan Stanley was the exclusive advisor to Freescale, which paid the bank $42 million in fees.

Fees: $102 million

May 2015: Avago Technologies buys Broadcom – $37 billion

Avago announced it would pay $17 billion in cash and $20 billion in stock to acquire Broadcom, adopting the latter company’s name and creating the behemoth that’s now pursuing Qualcomm. The deal closed at the beginning of 2016.

Avago hired Deutsche Bank as its financial adviser for the deal, paying $22.5 million in fees, according to fillings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Broadcom hired JPMorgan as its adviser, agreeing to pay a fee of 0.14% of the total deal value, which comes to nearly $52 million.

Wall Street banks also earned $100 million in fees for arranging $16.1 billion in debt financing, according to Nassof.

Fees: $174.5 million

October 2016: Qualcomm to buy NXP Semiconductor – $47 billion offer

Last year, Qualcomm ponied up an all-cash offer of $47 billion to buy NXP. The deal is still in limbo, as NXP shareholders – including feared activist Elliott Management – had been hoping to extract a sweeter offer.

The boutique bank Qatalyst Partners was the lead adviser to NXP, along with Barclays and Credit Suisse. On the buy side, Goldman Sachs and Evercore advised Qualcomm. The boutique firm Centerview Partners advised Qualcomm’s board. And Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan signed on to provide debt financing.

The banks would share a pot of between $140 million and $160 million, according to Nassof.

Banks would also earn a $75 million fee for arranging $24.6 billion in debt to finance the deal.

Fees: As much as $235 million

November 2017: Broadcom to buy Qualcomm – $130 billion offer

Moelis & Co., Citi, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and Morgan Stanley are each advising Broadcom on the potential merger. Those banks could share between $110 million and $135 million in advisory fees, according to Nassof.

Qualcomm has retained Goldman Sachs and Evercore to mount its defense in the deal; the banks could earn between $120 million and $145 million in fees, according to Nassof.

Bank of America, Citi, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan, and Morgan Stanley are also helping arrange debt financing, and Silver Lake Partners has agreed to supply $5 billion in convertible debt financing.

Broadcom could reportedly require as much as $90 billion in debt to close the deal, but it’s too early to say how much banks would net from arranging the financing. If they financed the majority of the transaction through the bond markets, however, the fees could top $500 million, according to Nassof.

Fees: As much as $280 million