Favoring Intel: 4 more join the club

By : |October 13, 2004 0



David Lawsky and Daniel Sorid


BRUSSELS/SAN FRANCISCO: The European Commission accused four additional member countries of violating European law by favoring Intel Corp. over arch-rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. in contracts to buy computers.


At stake are the billions of euros to be spent on computers as an expanding European Union upgrades its infrastructure. The single largest computer contract — from the French military — could be worth more than 500 million euros over the next three years.


The commission named France, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden in formal charges, expanding a probe that already targeted Italy and Germany.


The countries are accused of failing to create a level playing field for the public procurement of computers by adopting policies that favored Intel, whose chips run more than 80 percent of all personal computers.


Authorities in those countries, the commission said, have required Intel-based PCs by name or demanded specifications that virtually rule out non-Intel parts.


The countries have two months to respond to the commission’s formal notice. If the commission’s concerns are not resolved, it may bring cases before the European Court of Justice to demand compliance.


“Reference to a specific brand would, in the Commission’s view, constitute a violation of (the directive) on public supply contracts,” the Commission said.


AMD said it was actively trying to convince governments to rewrite requirements to allow for what it calls “open tenders” that could save taxpayers’ money.


“We see this all over the world,” said AMD spokesman Michael Simonoff. “We see that here in the U.S. at every level of government.”


In many cases, procurement violations are difficult to find because they are spread among dozens of local authorities or public bodies. Also, the wording of the tenders can be vague, specifying so-called “clock rates” that favor Intel products.


Shares of AMD rose 23 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $13.93 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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