Did EU Miss Evidence in Intel Antitrust Case?

A European Union official will tell antitrust regulators that they failed to consider “potentially exculpatory” evidence in a ruling against chip maker Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

The European Commission in May ruled that Intel had engaged in illegal actions to squeeze arch-rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) (NYSE: AMD) out of the market, slapping a record 1.06 billion euro fine on the world’s largest microprocessor maker.

European Union ombudsman P. Nikiforos Diamandouros cannot reverse the fine, but is expected to deliver a report to the commission accusing it of “maladministration”, according to the unpublished report obtained by the Journal.

Diamandouros is one of the few independent checks on the EU’s powerful executive arm, the European Commission, the Journal said.

The Commission did not record in its case a formal account of an August 2006 meeting between the Commission and a senior Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) executive, during which the executive called the performance of AMD chips “very poor”, the Journal said.

That could imply Dell chose Intel’s chips for technical reasons, rather than being strong-armed into doing so, the newspaper reported.

But the evidence provided was unlikely to have changed the outcome of the case, the Journal added.

Intel could not immediately be reached for comment.

Shares in the company rose 1 percent in after-hours trading after closing down 1.1 percent at $18.50 on the Nasdaq.

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