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Intel Wins Conditional EU Approval for McAfee Deal

Intel Corp., the world’s largest chipmaker, won European Union approval to buy security software company McAfee Inc. for $6.6 billion after it promised to allay competition concerns over the deal.

Intel committed “to ensuring the interoperability” of products with those of competitors,” the European Commission said in an e-mailed statement today.

The chipmaker’s offer “will ensure that vigorous competition is maintained,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in the statement. The EU agency said its probe had identified “serious competition concerns with the possible bundling” of Intel’s chips and McAfee’s security software.

Intel is counting on technology from McAfee, its largest acquisition, to help it add security measures to its semiconductors for computers, smartphones and other devices. McAfee is the second-biggest maker of security software, behind Mountain View, California-based Symantec Corp.

The EU approval “will permit us to close the transaction by the end of this quarter,” Chuck Mulloy, a spokesman for Intel in Santa Clara, California, said in a phone interview.

Intel promised to ensure that rival security software companies would have “all the necessary information to use functionalities” of Intel’s computer processing units and chipsets, the commission said.

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Intel also pledged “not to actively impede competitors’ security solutions from running” on its chips and to avoid hampering McAfee software on computers using other manufacturers’ chips, the EU regulator said.

“We believe that the agreement addresses the concerns of the EC regulators allowing us and McAfee to continue to innovate in the critical area of security,” Mulloy said.

Intel’s commitments will be monitored by a trustee, the commission said, without giving details.

Intel’s processors run more than 80 percent of the world’s personal computers. In addition to helping the company add security features to its PC chips, McAfee is part of Intel’s plan to expand into new areas, such as mobile phones and consumer electronics.

Computer functions run more quickly when woven directly into a chip, without having to go through other programs, Intel said when it announced the deal. That also makes it harder for hackers to attack the processes.

Intel plans to run McAfee as an independent company, under the leadership of current Chief Executive Officer Dave DeWalt. McAfee will also continue to sell standalone software. New Intel chips with capabilities provided by McAfee, would go on sale next year.

Intel won U.S. approval for the deal last month. The company in 2009 was fined 1.06 billion euros ($1.45 billion) by the EU over allegations it impeded competition by giving rebates to computer makers that bought all or almost all of their chips from Intel.

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