Senior Department of Justice (DoJ) officials have reportedly approached investment banks requesting an analysis of how best to break up Microsoft should the software giant lose its federal antitrust trial.
According to US reports, the officials asked at least two investment banks for logical ways to break up the company so as to identify which parts of it could best be made into separate businesses, and to conduct a study on how the stock market might react.
Both firms, which requested anonymity, declined the request, however, because they were worried about the impact of appearing to side with the DoJ.
A DoJ spokeswoman confirmed that the Government had approached experts to assist it in considering remedy options should it win the case, but added that no individual or firm had been retained to analyse the market impact of any of the available options.
The Justice Department and 19 states filed lawsuits last year, alleging that Microsoft engaged in predatory conduct to maintain a monopoly in the desktop operating system market and to illegally extend its control into the Internet software sector.
Microsoft has denied the charges, claiming that its practices are good for consumers, but did not perform well in its defense. As a result, most legal experts expect it will be found to have violated antitrust laws, which has sparked debate that the Government may introduce harsh controls such as splitting the company up into a series of "Baby Bills" if Microsoft loses the case.
Other options being considered by the DoJ include forcing Microsoft to make the source code and pricing structure for Windows publically available.
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