Intel faces further problems from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is now scrutinising its deal with Digital Equipment, brokered at the end of last year.
The new enquiry comes only one day after it was forced to extend its deadline for taking over fellow chipmaker Chips & Technologies.
The FTC now wants to examine in more depth whether Intel?s deal with Digital contravenes US antitrust laws.
Although Intel maintains that it has no reason to fear any investigation by the US authorities, and has set up a special legal unit to counter any such claim, news that the FTC is considering extending its investigation worried some investors.
Intel said today: ?We have no reason to fear such an investigation and we?re sure we?ll receive a clean bill of health. We understand it could take as long as nine months for the investigation to be finished.?
But a statement made by a senior vice president at Intel just before the Christmas break is likely to make the FTC look even more closely into the chip company?s affairs, when he admitted that it had designs on the networking market.
The powerful FTC investigated Intel before, in 1992, but towards the end of 1993 concluded it was not guilty of breaking anti-monopolistic rules.
When Intel struck the deal with Digital last October, it followed several months of negotiations between both parties, and resulted in a favourable outcome for the latter - which Intel hoped would settle any FTC qualms.
That appears to be no longer the case, despite increased competition for Intel in the last nine months from AMD, NatSemi Cyrix, IDT/Centaur and others.
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