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Intel charged for bribing EU makers

18 July 2008

BRUSSELS / FRANKFURT / NEW YORK – European regulators charged late Thursday that US chip-maker Intel used coercion and bribery to unfairly gain market advantage in Europe.

The European Commission said that it had sent another so-called "statement of objections" to Intel alleging it has tried to exclude its leading competitor Advanced Micro Devices Inc (AMD) from the x86 central processing unit (CPU) market.

The action follows a similar warning sent to the company in July 2007.

Without naming other companies involved, regulators said in a statement they had reached a "preliminary conclusion" that Intel has engaged in another three types of "abusive conduct".

The commission said Intel had provided "substantial rebates to a leading European personal computer retailer" to sell only Intel-based PCs.

It had paid bribes to a manufacturer to delay the launch of a product using AMD products and also paid "substantial rebates" to the same company conditional on its buying all of its CPU units from the California-based Intel.

The European Commission gave Intel eight weeks to reply and attend an oral hearing, and reserved the right to levy fines. It said each charge in and of itself was serious, but taken together, they "reinforce each other and are part of a single overall anti- competitive strategy aimed at excluding AMD or limiting its access to the market".

The California-based Intel said it was disappointed by the new charges, adding it believed the commission supported AMD’s position. It said it has always conducted itself legally and with a sense of fair competition.

Intel said the rebates gave lower prices to consumers, and it was convinced it could rebut the charges as unfounded.

[dpa / Expatica]