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Monday, September 11, 2006
EU will widen its Intel probe

EU is widening an antitrust review of Intel to see whether it pressured an electronics retailer to exclude rival AMD

The relationship between chipmaker Intel and German company Metro AG's Media Markt had been under investigation by that country's Bundeskartellamt competition agency following a complaint by AMD, but the Commission is taking over the case.

"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," spokesman Jonathan Todd said on Monday.

Todd said the transfer was made "bearing in mind that (the suspected actions) seem to belong to a set of practices that is already under scrutiny by the Commission", that is, "a range of tactics used by Intel to limit the market share of AMD".

The German agency also confirmed that the case was being transferred, saying it wanted to avoid duplication.

Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said: "We believe our activities are lawful, and we have been cooperating with the German authorities and we have been cooperating with the staff at the Commission and will continue to do so."

The European Union's executive arm was already looking at whether Intel pressured computer makers to prevent AMD from gaining market share.

Intel and AMD are the sole makers of the central processing unit chips at the heart of the more than 500 million Windows PCs worldwide. Intel holds roughly 80% of the market.

AMD has complained to the Commission that Intel used anti-competitive tactics to prevent it from moving much beyond a 20% market share by value.

Still, Intel announced this month that it would cut 10,500 jobs, about 10% of its workforce, in the face of increasing competition from AMD.

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