EU takes over German antitrust inquiry into Intel

Regulators take over a German antitrust investigation of allegations that Intel persuaded a retailer to forgo AMD processors.

European Commission regulators have taken over a German antitrust investigation into allegations that Intel put pressure on a major electronics retailer to forgo using processors from competitor Advanced Micro Devices.

Germany's antitrust agency, Bundeskartellamt, received a complaint from AMD alleging that Intel had abused its dominant market position by putting pressure on major electronics retailer Media Markt to not sell AMD's chips. Because the Commission found similarities with its existing probe into Intel, it took over the German investigation in late August, Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd said.

"We have liaised with the Bundeskartellamt...and come to a common understanding that it would make more sense if these charges could be dealt with by the European Commission," Todd said. "Bearing in mind that (the suspected actions) seem to belong to a set of practices that is already under scrutiny by the Commission...a range of tactics used by Intel to limit the market share of AMD."

Intel will cooperate with the EU investigation, as it has done over the past five years, said Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy, who added that the company believes its actions are "fair and lawful."

Last year, the Commission raided several European Intel offices as well as offices of companies that manufacture or sell computers.

Other countries have weighed in with their own investigations into Intel's business practices. Earlier this year, the Korean Fair Trade Commission sought more documents from Intel relating to its antitrust investigation into the chip giant.

And last year, Intel agreed to abide by recommendations from the Japan Fair Trade Commission, which had launched its own probe. The recommendations called for Intel to halt its practice of requiring PC makers to restrict the use of competitors' chips in exchange for monetary rebates. Intel accepted the recommendations but disagreed with the facts underlying the allegations.

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