Chipmaker Intel’s $7.7 billion purchase of security software provider McAfee is to be investigated by European Union competition regulators, it has been reported.
Industry sources told the Wall Street Journal that completion of the acquisition, which was due to close early 2011, could be delayed by any probe.
Announcing the acquisition of McAfee in August 2010, Intel said that the deal would allow it to build security directly into its line of processors, which are used in a high proportion of new PC and server hardware.
It is precisely this intention that the EU wishes to further investigate, the US newspaper reports. Apparently the governing body is concerned that, by virtue of being owned by Intel, McAfee would be at an unfair advantage in supplying its parent company with processor level security features.
The anonymous source also reportedly told the WSJ that the EU is worried Intel may reserve portions of its chips’ processing power for McAfee applications, or embed pop-up advertisement software for McAfee products into its hardware.
EU regulators are now said to be circulating questionnaires among McAfee’s security rivals to solicit opinions on the merger.
According to an update posted on Intel’s investor relations’ website last week, the acquisition of McAfee is due to "close some time in the first half of 2011". Neither Intel or McAfee were available for further comment at the time of publication.