Thanksgiving feast: Chipmaker Marvell Tech gobbles up Cavium for $6 billion

While Thanksgiving is just a few days away, Bay Area semiconductor makers are doing more than just shopping for their last-minute turkey-making needs.

That became apparent when Marvell Technology Group said Monday that it would acquire Cavium for $6 billion in a deal that will bring together two rivals in the market for high-end chips used in data centers, wireless communications and self-driving cars. The acquisition values San Jose-based Cavium at $80 a share.

“This combination expands and diversifies our revenue base and end markets, and enables us to deliver a broader set of differentiated solutions to our customers,” said Marvell Chief Executive Matt Murphy in a statement about the deal.

Marvell, based in Hamilton, Bermuda, has its U.S. headquarters in Santa Clara.

Daniel Ives, chief strategy officer at GBH Insights, said the deal is a sign that Marvell is getting its house back in order after “years of taking a step backwards.”

“Cavium helps diversify (Marvell’s) business in the networking space,” Ives said. “The Cavium chip franchise will enable Marvell to further expand into product wings and better compete vs. some of the big boys in the space like Intel and Broadcom.”

The acquisition is the latest in a line of shakeups among semiconductor makers.

Last week, Qualcomm turned down a proposed $103 billion takeover bid by communications chipmaker Broadcom. For its part, Broadcom has said it intends to continue with its acquisition plans. Broadcom is also in the process of acquiring Brocade Communications for $5.5 billion, while Qualcomm is in the middle of a $38 billion bid to buy NXP Semiconductors in order to expand further in the automotive-chip market.

Marvell’s acquisition of Cavium also comes more than a year after Marvell’s founders, the husband-and-wife team of CEO Sehat Sutardja and President Weili Dai, were forced out of the company due to an accounting irregularity scandal. Activist investor Starboard Value Fund had led the push for reform at Marvell after acquiring a 7 percent stake in the company.

Photo: A set of Marvell Technology chips. On Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, Marvell said it would acquire San Jose-based Cavium for $6 billion. (Courtesy Marvell/Bay Area News Group archives)


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