Intel may have paid German retailer to shut out AMD - report

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Hamburg (Germany) - An article released by Financial Times Germany (FTG) suggests that Intel may have paid one of Europe's largest electronics retailers to prevent PCs with AMD processors from being sold through the chain. A letter from a supplier appears to confirm earlier suspicions of retail manipulation, which also have been voiced by AMD's antitrust suit against Intel.

According to the FTG, Intel may still hold and exclusive agreement with the Media-Saturn-Holding, which is considered Europe's largest electronics and computer retailer, which apparently denies AMD access to the chain. A "supplier" claims that Media-Saturn confirmed in a letter that it generally does not buy any AMD products because of an "agreement with Intel." The authors of the FTG article suspect that Intel may have paid several million dollars to convince Media-Saturn to decline shipments of AMD-based products.

The new accusations follow a raid of Intel's Munich offices by Germany's antitrust office in August of last year. The office told TG Daily that the investigations in that case have not been concluded yet; antitrust officials declined to comment on today's FTG report and whether Media-Saturn is part of that investigation.

AMD was first to accuse Intel and Media-Saturn to have violated antitrust law. In its >suit filed on 28 June 2005, the company said that "AMD has been entirely shut out from Media Markt, Europe's largest computer retailer [and one of the Media-Saturn chains], which accounts for 35% of Germany's retail sales." In exchange for not selling AMD products, Intel "provides Media Markt between $15-20 million of MDF [market development funds] annually," AMD claims. The document also states that "Intel subsidies also foreclose AMD from Aldi, a leading German food retail chain, whose PC sales account for an additional 15-20% of the German market." Intel representatives could not be reached for comment.