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Qualcomm promotes COO, heads off Microsoft approach

Chip maker appoints new CEO as Redmond targets him to replace Ballmer

Qualcomm promotes COO, heads off Microsoft approach
Qualcomm chief operating officer, Steve Mollenkopf, has been promoted to CEO.

Smartphone chip maker Qualcomm Inc on Friday announced it had promoted its chief operating officer, Steve Mollenkopf, to the position of CEO, effective from March, Reuters reported.

Mollenkopf was heir-apparent to Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs, the 51-year-old son of a company co-founder. But following a Bloomberg report on Thursday that Mollenkopf's name was on the candidate list to succeed Steve Ballmer as chief executive of Microsoft, Qualcomm accelerated its plans, leading media to speculate that the move was an attempt to head off any possible approach by the Redmond software giant.

"Our executives are very talented and very sought after," Jacobs told Reuters, while refusing to confirm any approach for Mollenkopf by Microsoft.

"The timing is a little faster than we originally planned but the key thing is to make sure we kept management continuity."

Mollenkopf is an engineer, but in his role as COO he led a $3.1bn acquisition in 2011 of radio frequency chip manufacturer Atheros Communications Inc, Qualcomm's largest acquisition to date.

Qualcomm last week announced it would start to make 64-bit chips from next year, such as that designed by Apple Inc for its iPhone 5S.

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