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Intel, FTC in Discussions to Settle Antitrust Case

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The Intel Corp. logo
The Intel Corp. logo is displayed at Intel's booth during the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

June 21 (Bloomberg) -- Intel Corp. and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed a motion to suspend trial proceedings while the two work on a potential settlement of the government’s antitrust case against the chipmaker.

Under the motion, the two parties would have until July 22 to discuss an agreement, the Santa Clara, California-based company said today in a statement.

The FTC sued Intel in December, accusing it of illegally using its dominant market position for a decade to “stifle competition and strengthen its monopoly.” The suit was filed after Intel settled a civil case with rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and was fined by the European Union.

“This was a huge distraction for them,” said Krishna Shankar, an analyst at ThinkEquity LLC in San Francisco. He recommends buying Intel shares. “You never know how these trials will go.”

Intel accounts for more than 80 percent of global computer-processor sales -- dwarfing AMD, its nearest competitor. The November settlement with AMD cost Intel $1.25 billion. That followed a record EU fine of 1.06 billion euros ($1.45 billion at the time).

Nvidia Dispute

Part of the FTC investigation concerned Intel’s legal dispute with graphics-chip maker Nvidia Corp., according to people familiar with the matter.

“We remain hopeful that any settlement will recognize Intel’s history of impeding competition and innovation at the expense of the American consumer,” Hector Marinez, a spokesman for Santa Clara-based Nvidia, said in an e-mail.

Tom Beermann, a spokesman for Intel, declined to comment beyond the statement. Mitchell Katz, an FTC spokesman, didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.

A possible settlement of the FTC case may force Intel to come to an agreement with Nvidia, Shankar said.

Intel, the world’s largest computer-chip maker, fell 21 cents to $21.19 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have gained 3.9 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ian King in San Francisco at ianking@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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