updated 10:05 am EDT, Mon September 21, 2009
E-mails show Intel's guilt in EU anti-trust case
The European Union on Monday shared some e-mail contents that contributed to its decision to fine chipmaker Intel the equivalent of $1.45 billion in May. The e-mails between the chipmaker and its clients allegedly show that Intel pressured buyers into choosing Intel over competitor AMD, via illegal incentives that would delay or keep them from buying AMD products. Intel is still fighting the EU decision, calling the e-mails speculative and originating from lower-level employees that were not involved in the negotiation of the deals in question.
Among the e-mails, Dell executives were communicating to each other in 2003 that buying more AMD chips would result in an action from Intel that would be "severe and prolonged with impact to all lines of business." This would involve Intel's rebate to Dell disappearing for one quarter at a minimum, it continued.
Dell had sent a complaint to Intel in 2004 that argued selling only Intel-based systems makes the company uncompetitive.
"We have slower, hotter products that cost more across the board in the enterprise with no hope of closing the performance gap for 1-2 years," read an excerpt.
HP received rebates from Intel that resulted in at least 95 percent of business desktops being powered by Intel between 2002 and 2005, the EU said. This was meant to be kept quiet, as shown by an e-mail from an executive.
"Please do not... communicate to the regions, your team members or AMD that we are constrained to 5 percent AMD by pursuing the Intel agreement."
Another HP e-mail from 2004 warned of the consequences of selling its products via a distributor.
"You can NOT use the commercial AMD line in any country... If you do and we get caught (and we will) the Intel moneys (each month) is gone (they would terminate the deal). The risk is too high."
Another e-mail quoted revealed Acer dropped an AMD notebook line entirely after calls with Intel executives.
Media Saturn Holdings, Europe's biggest computer retailer, also apparently stopped AMD-based computer sales from 2002 to 2007 after receiving payments from Intel, the EU said. MSH publicly stated that its understanding was that its selling more AMD systems would result in less rebates or other forms of payment from Intel. [via AP]