Motorola Considers San Diego, Other Cities, for Mobile Spin Off Headquarters

5/24/10Follow @bvbigelow

Motorola (NYSE: MOT), the mobile communications technology giant based in Schaumburg, IL, is scouting sites in Chicago, Dallas, and California for the headquarters of its cell phone spinoff set for next year, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. San Diego is among the California cities under consideration, according to an interview with Motorola co-chief executive (and former Qualcomm COO) Sanjay Jha that was published yesterday in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Motorola recruited Jha in 2008 as its turnaround man, naming him co-CEO and head of its mobile phone and cable set-top box businesses. The company initially planned a spin off in late 2008, a split that got postponed until 2011. Motorola’s core infrastructure business (which makes wireless network gear and police radios) will remain in Schaumburg.

Jha also has suggested Silicon Valley as a possible headquarters for the new company, citing the deep pool of high-tech talent during an interview three months ago. In Sunday’s Union-Tribune interview, Jha says a key factor in deciding where the mobile and spinoff should be located depends on how much business it does in China.

“In San Diego, we already have a very big facility,” Jha told the Union-Tribune. “As you know, I have the mobile business as well as the set-top box business. The set-top box business has very deep roots in San Diego. I think my links to San Diego, if anything, deepened as a result of having that business.

“But I don’t know that we have made that decision. Is San Diego a possibility? When we get engaged with it, we’ll definitely consider San Diego. My family, you know, still lives there. I have a special place for San Diego in heart.”

I sent queries to several Motorola public relations staffers by e-mail earlier today, but they didn’t immediately respond. The company did issue a statement today in its home media market, which was picked up by the website Chicago Breaking Business, which is affiliated with the Chicago Tribune and WGN.

“If Mobile Devices and Home make the decision to relocate its headquarters, this would affect less than 200 people and would not occur in 2010,” the company said in a statement. Motorola has more than 10,000 employees in the Chicago area. The company’s mobile devices division is currently based near Chicago, in Libertyville, IL.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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