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Apple-Power deal back on track

After being temporarily delayed by a Justice Department inquiry, Apple Computer's acquisition of Power Computing should be completed by the end of the month.

After being temporarily delayed by a Justice Department inquiry, Apple Computer's (AAPL) acquisition of Power Computing should be completed by the end of the month, a lawyer for the Texas company said today.

"We're going to have a timely resolution of the investigation," said John Teets, Power Computing's corporate counsel. "We believe that based on our discussions [with the Justice Department] we are going to have a positive outcome."

Closing the $100 million deal is crucial for Power, which in September relinquished licensing rights to clone the Macintosh. To ensure its survival, the company needs to sell off its Mac assets and use the cash infusion to launch a new business strategy, which involves moving into the market for Intel-based computers. (See related story)

Under federal law, all mergers or acquisitions valued over $15 million must be reported to the federal government, which then has 30 days either to approve the deal or request further information about it. The Justice Department in early October made such a request of Power, said Teets, effectively putting the deal on hold while the company complied. But now that the company has fulfilled its obligation to turn over what Teets described as a "voluminous" amount of information, the government has 20 days to approve the deal, block it in court, or modify it.

"We believe we are going to have a timely result that is faster than the [20-day] time period they're entitled to take under the law," Teets added.

Apple spokeswoman Katie Cotton said the Justice Department's October request for further information was routine but would not say when the company expected the deal to be approved.

Rodrigo Howard, an attorney specializing in mergers and acquisitions at Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich in Palo Alto, California, said that the Justice Department's action, while not exactly routine, was not uncommon, either. "Just because you get a request," he said, "that doesn't mean that the regulators are going to block [the deal]."

On a related note, Teets estimated that only about 90 percent of the information requested by the Justice Department related to the deal with Apple. The other 10 percent appeared to be related to Internet standards and an ongoing Justice Department investigation of Microsoft, he said.

In addition to accusing Microsoft of violating a 1995 antitrust settlement, the Justice Department is probing a number of activities by the software giant, including its $150 million investment in Apple.