Hock Tan: The CEO Behind the Tech Industry’s Largest Deal

An accelerating wave of consolidation in the semiconductor industry has a new point man: Hock Tan, a press-shy numbers guy now mounting the largest takeover in high-tech history. What can other CEOs learn from him?

The 63-year-old chief executive of Avago Technologies Ltd. stepped into the limelight on Thursday with a $37 billion cash-and-stock deal to buy Broadcom Corp. The transaction would meld two companies with complementary sales of communications chips, including processors that handle different chores in smartphones from Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.

It also would continue the CEO’s practice of using debt to finance takeovers of bigger name firms with larger workforces, shedding nonessential operations and staff and taking other steps to boost profit margins.

“He has a unique ability to run a big business as if it were a small business,” said Kenneth Hao, an Avago director and managing partner at Silver Lake, the chip maker’s second-largest investor.

People who have worked with him say he spends little time on anything but work, preferring to let results speak for themselves. Those include his $6.6 billion deal in 2013 for LSI Corp., which roughly doubled Avago’s size, despite the fact that Mr. Tan sold off LSI operations that some industry executives had deemed promising.

One of Mr. Tan’s hallmarks is to rein in spending on speculative projects, colleagues say, focusing on chips with established customers and favorable profit margins. Avago, they note, sells many parts whose technology originated in developments decades ago at H-P and AT&T.

Read more: The Wall Street Journal



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