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Sweaty palm time at Qualcomm after Beijing launches probe

NDRC to investigate chipmaker under anti-monopoly law

Qualcomm Atheros AR9004TB

Qualcomm is the latest US technology giant to find itself in trouble in China, having been placed under investigation in an anti-monopoly probe and suffering from the fallout over NSA spying revelations.

The San-Diego-headquartered chipmaker put out a short release on Monday local time revealing that a probe had begun under the auspices of China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), related to the country’s Anti-Monopoly Law (AML).

The statement continued:

The NDRC has advised that the substance of the investigation is confidential. The Company is not aware of any charge by the NDRC that Qualcomm has violated the AML. We will continue to cooperate with the NDRC as it conducts its confidential investigation.

The NDRC was the body that launched large scale investigations this year into foreign pharmaceuticals companies and instant milk powder makers operating in China.

The latter led to fines of $US110 million for price fixing while the UK’s GlaxoSmithKline is still in the dock for allegedly bribing doctors and officials.

The Qualcomm investigation could be yet another attempt by Beijing to flex its muscles, put another foreign business in its place and force it to lower prices.

CEO Paul Jacobs told the Wall Street Journal at the weekend that the firm is “seeing increased pressure” in China thanks to US restrictions on Chinese firms and revelations about NSA snooping on targets in the PRC.

He described doing business there as a “very delicate balancing act” but claimed Qualcomm still aims to grow its $1bn business in China.

Jacobs probably hopes the advent of LTE in the vast nation will help spur this growth. China Mobile will begin offering 4G services from December 18th. ®

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