S. Korean Regulator Wraps Up Intel Probe

Antitrust investigators in South Korea have wrapped up a two-year probe into Intel Corp.'s activities in the country, the company said Tuesday.

The Korean Fair Trade Commission has been investigating Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel, the world's largest chip maker, since June 2005. South Korean media have reported the inquiry has centered on allegations Intel abused its market dominance by pressuring computer makers to avoid using chips made by Intel's rivals.

Chuck Mulloy, legal affairs spokesman for Intel in Santa Clara, said the company received last week what he described as a "statement of objection" from the commission.

Mulloy said he could not discuss allegations against the company or divulge the contents of the statement due to the confidentiality of the document.

Intel has the right to respond to the findings and can request a hearing. If it remains unsatisfied, the company can take the issue to court in South Korea, Mulloy said.

"We're hopeful that we'll be able to show the commission that the microprocessor market is functioning normally and that this is an extremely competitive market and that our conduct has been pro-competition and beneficial to consumers," he said.

Korean Fair Trade Commission officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency, citing sources it did not identify, reported Tuesday that the regulator was expected to reach a decision on a penalty by October at the latest.

Intel sells more than three-quarters of all microprocessors that run computers using Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system.

The company has faced numerous legal battles over how it maintains its market position. Intel has repeatedly denied breaking any laws.

European Union regulators charged Intel in late July with alleged monopoly abuse for customer rebates and below-cost pricing, saying those actions undercut smaller rival computer chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

Intel responded to the charge by arguing that its conduct had been lawful, good for competition and beneficial to customers.

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