Samsung buys CSR’s mobile business for $310m

Struggling British chipmaker CSR (s CSR) is selling its mobile business to Samsung in a deal worth $310 million, in what appears to be the latest episode in the ongoing global patent war.
The company, which specializes in producing Bluetooth, GPS, WiFi and other chips, announced on Tuesday that it had entered into an agreement to sell off the business. The all-cash deal will move the focused on mobile connectivity become part of Samsung’s component division — the group that supplies electronics to customers like Apple (s AAPL).
On top of the purchase, Samsung is also buying a 4.9 percent share of CSR for a further $35 million, a move which will — perhaps crucially — give it access to CSR’s intellectual property and ownership of 21 crucial U.S. patents.
Around 300 staff will move to Samsung as a result.
“I believe that under Samsung’s ownership the handset operations will be in a better position to prosper in the global handset market,” said CSR chief Joep van Beurden in a statement. “I would like to thank all our colleagues who will be transferring to Samsung for their outstanding service to CSR over many years.”
It’s been a tough time for CSR, which was founded in Cambridge, England some 14 years ago and went public in 2004. With its profitability reliant on the success of its customers — many of whom, such as Nokia (s NOK) and Research in Motion (s RIMM) have seen their businesses struck by calamity — the business has watched its profits plummet and its share price fall by some 50 percent over the past two years.
In particular, its purchase of the U.S. video chip specialist Zoran last year, a deal which cost it $484 million, has come in for criticism. More than 1,000 jobs were cut following the move, which generated some shareholder unrest after the company posted significant losses.
CSR will be hoping to ameliorate some of that opposition by returning the money from the deal to shareholders: in fact, the company says, nearly all of the money from the deal — some $285 million, before taxes and costs — will be issued as a dividend.