European Commission grants conditional approval of McAfee acquisition by Intel

On 26 January 2011, the European Commission approved the proposed acquisition of McAfee, Inc. (“McAfee”) by Intel Corporation (“Intel”) subject to interoperability remedies. As a result, Intel, the leading manufacturer of central processing units (“CPUs”) and chipsets, will be able to acquire McAfee, a leading security technology company active in the design and development of security products and services focused on ensuring that internet connected devices are protected from malicious content.

As Intel and McAfee are active in neighboring and complementary products markets, the Commission was concerned with the conglomerate effects of the merger in the field of computer security rather than with overlaps of products and services. In particular, the Commission looked at the negative effects of the merger resulting from possible bundling of CPUs and chipsets with McAfee’s security solutions.

In fact, while Intel would be able to directly embed its own (i.e. McAfee’s) security solutions into its chips and chipsets, security solutions vendors would still need access to specific information regarding CPUs to be able to develop new solutions. Additionally, Intel’s competitors would suffer if McAfee solutions were no longer compatible with non-Intel CPUs and chipsets. Without a proper remedy, IT security products, as well as competing CPUs and chipsets could be excluded from the marketplace given Intel’s strong presence in the world markets for computer chips and chipsets.

In order to address the Commission’s concerns, Intel committed to ensuring the interoperability of the merged entity’s products with those of competitors. In particular, vendors of rival security solutions will have access to all necessary information to use functionalities of Intel’s CPUs and chipsets, while Intel also committed not to actively impede competitors’ security solutions from running on Intel CPUs or chipsets. Finally, Intel will avoid hampering the operation of McAfee’s security solutions when running on personal computers containing CPUs or chipsets sold by Intel’s competitors. [Gabriele Accardo]