* EU takes step toward sanctions against Intel -source
* Formal decision could come within weeks
(Adds comment from European Commission)
SAN FRANCISCO, April 22 The European
Commission, taking a major step toward fining and imposing
sanctions on Intel Corp (INTC.O) for violating antitrust law,
has sent a draft decision ruling against the chip maker to EU
member states, a source familiar with the situation said on
That sets the stage for the Commission to deliver a formal
decision within weeks, based on past practice. In the draft
decision, the Commission said Intel abused its market power in
violation of EU antitrust law.
Intel declined comment.
"As far as we are concerned this is speculative at this
stage and we have no comment," spokesman Chuck Mulloy said.
Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd said, "I can confirm
that the Commission does have an ongoing antitrust case
concerning Intel but I can make no further comment."
Intel and its smaller rival, Advanced Micro Devices Inc
AMD.N, make virtually all of the central processing chips at
the heart of the world's one billion personal computers.
The Commission's draft decision was sent to the 27 European
Union member states, the source told Reuters on condition of
Sending a draft decision is typically followed by a meeting
within a week or two in which the individual members give their
recommendations. Every draft decision of the Commission has
been approved in the past.
Once a draft is approved, the members reconvene within days
to approve a fine. In order to prevent leaks, the Commission
does not put the size of the fine in a draft decision.
Equally important to an Intel fine would be other
sanctions, which could limit the activities of Intel in giving
In July 2007, the Commission said Intel designed its
rebates to persuade computer makers to shut out AMD. One year
later, the Commission said Intel had also given money to
retailers who agreed to sell only computers with Intel chips.
(Reporting by David Lawsky; Editing by Andre Grenon, Gary