Paul Jacobs and Steven Mollenkopf of Qualcomm
San Diego communications giant Qualcomm could announce coming layoffs of 4000 people on Wednesday, according to rumors racing around the internet.
July 22 is the date of the company's release of its third-quarter earnings. It will have a conference call with securities analysts from 1:45 to 2:45 p.m. that day. An earnings call would be a logical time for such an announcement.
The company has 31,300 employees. A layoff of 4000 would be almost 13 percent of the workforce.
Qualcomm is under pressure. The company paid almost $1 billion to settle an antitrust dispute with Chinese regulators. Now Europe is looking into going down the same path. According to Motley Fool, "With one antitrust investigation in the rear-view mirror, another has popped up in its place. European antitrust regulators have now decided to take a look at Qualcomm's business practices."
Jana Partners, a hedge fund with a $2 billion investment in Qualcomm, has been pressing management on many fronts. In late June, Qualcomm said it had no plans to spin off chipmaking and tech-licensing businesses, thus annoying Jana.
Thestreet.com stated Thursday that "Qualcomm could end up as the biggest proxy fight ever." Jana Partners would be the aggressor. Announcing a huge layoff would be a method of appeasing Wall Street and staving off a proxy fight.
Fudzilla.com says "Qualcomm may lay off around 4,000 people." Govtslaves.info reports the same number. Investor message boards speculate whether the announcement of a layoff will run up Qualcomm stock.
A layoff of this magnitude would stir up more criticism of Qualcomm's excessive top executive compensation. Last year, chief executive Steven Mollenkopf was paid $60.7 million. Former chief executive and now executive chairman Paul Jacobs was granted almost as much as Mollenkopf, bringing their combined compensation to $117.7 million. The company argues, correctly, that all this money would not come to the executives in one year, but nonetheless, it is the kind of pay that could — and should — rattle workers, especially those facing a layoff.
Also, Qualcomm is one of the nation's largest users of the H-1B program. This government program permits importation of foreign workers, but opponents argue that the process has the effect of lowering the pay of all engineers and scientists, particularly American ones.
The company refused comment.