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EC officials raid Intel offices

Channel partners and PC makers too

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European Commission investigators today raided Intel EMEA offices in a bid to find evidence that the chip giant violated the Union's antitrust laws.

The raids, which extended to Intel's distribution partners and PC maker customers, and are part of an ongoing investigation into Intel's behaviour, were confirmed by the company this afternoon.

Two premises were targeted, in Munich and Swindon.

"DG Competition officials, accompanied by officials from national competition authorities are conducting inspections of several premises of Intel in Europe as well as a number of IT firms manufacturing or selling computers," the spokesman said, according to a Reuters report.

An Intel spokesman told The Register the chip maker's "normal practice is to attempt to co-operate with authorities from regulatory agencies and we are doing so in this case.

"Intel believes its business practices are both fair and lawful," he added.

The EC investigation was launched in 2001. AMD submittted further evidence in 2003 which ultimately prompted investigators to conntact PC OEMs and distributors in the summer of 2004 to seek formal statements on the matter.

In March, Japanese antitrust investigators found Intel guilty of anticompetitive actions - again following complaints from AMD. They said Intel offered price-rebates to five PC makers, including Sony, NEC, Hitachi, Fujitsu and Toshiba, in return for their agreement not to source processors from AMD. Intel denies that its actions constitute an infringement of "internationally accepted" antitrust principles.

Soon afterward, AMD initiated legal proceedings against the chip giant in the US and Japan. ®

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