Qualcomm names former Palo Alto Networks head Mark McLaughin as board chairman

San Diego Union-Tribune |

--Qualcomm has shuffled the top of its board of directors by naming Mark McLaughlin as chairman, replacing Jeff Henderson.

McLaughlin is former chief executive and chairman of Palo Alto Networks. He joined Qualcomm's board in 2015 and sat on the human resources and compensation committees.

Henderson, former chief financial officer of Cardinal Health, will remain on Qualcomm's board and serve on the audit committee. He took over as chairman in when the company was in the throes of a hostile takeover bid from chip rival Broadcom, which was unsuccessful.

Henderson took over as chairman when longtime Qualcomm head Paul Jacobs was not re-nominated to the board after informing fellow members that he was exploring taking the company private. Jacobs now runs telecommunications research startup XCOM.

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"Jeff assumed leadership of the board during a period of unparalleled challenges, becoming our first independent chairman and guiding the board through the company's efforts to resolve significant business issues," said McLaughlin in a statement. "The board is deeply appreciative of all that Jeff has done during this period of transition."

The company faced a brutal, two-year legal battle with Apple over Qualcomm's patent licensing business model under Henderson's watch. The companies settled their legal war in April, with Apple signing a six-year patent license agreement with Qualcomm, as well as a chip supply deal.

Qualcomm also saw its proposed $43 billion acquisition of NXP Semiconductor collapse after Chinese regulators balked at approving the deal.

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"It was a great honor to lead the board, particularly during this period," said Henderson. "We are now seeing the dawn of a significant ramp in 5G enabled products and I felt that now seemed like the right time to pass on the baton. The board will benefit greatly, in this phase of its development, by having a technology industry veteran like Mark as its lens into the company's business, particularly 5G."

Qualcomm still faces legal challenges. A U.S. District Judge found the company had violated anti-monopoly laws in a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The court required significant changes in the way Qualcomm licenses patents.

Qualcomm is appealing the District Court ruling to the U.S. Ninth Circuit court of Appeals.

McLaughlin joined Palo Alto Networks, a network cybersecurity firm, in 2011. He served as chairman and chief executive until 2016. He remains vice chairman of the company's board.

Prior to that, McLaughlin was president and chief executive of VeriSign, a provider of Internet infrastructure services. He earned a bachelor's degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a law degree from Seattle University School of Law.

Qualcomm announced the board shuffle on Tuesday. Its shares ended trading Wednesday down nearly 2 percent at $70.88 on the Nasdaq exchange.

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