April 30, 2009

Intel could face record antitrust fine

Market officials in Europe could recommend a record fine against U.S. chipmaker Intel, an expert in EU regulations said.

I'd be surprised if the fine isn't as high or higher than in the Microsoft case, said Howard Cartlidge of the London law firm Olswang, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Technology markets are where the European Commission has perceived particular problems due to dominant companies, he said.

Intel has been accused of paying computer manufacturers to deliberately delay or cancel product lines, selling computer chips at a loss to secure business and providing companies with sizable rebates, the newspaper said.

Microsoft Corp. was fined $663 million in 2004 for anti-competitive practices. Some experts said the Intel fine could reach $1.3 billion, the Times reported.

Regulators would presumably reserve a fine of that size for a cartel, however, not an individual company, said Michael Reynolds, a partner in the international antitrust group at Allen & Overy said.

Representatives from 27 EU countries will determine the size of the fine in May.

In London on Wednesday, Intel spokesman Robert Manetta said the company's practices are lawful, pro-competitive and beneficial to consumers, the newspaper said.