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European regulators have approved Intel's planned acquisition of security vendor McAfee, saying the microprocessor maker has agreed to take steps to ensure that McAfee rivals will get the same access to Intel technology.
The European Commission issued a statement Wednesday that outlined the conditions of the approval. Under the agreement, Intel committed to providing other security vendors with the technology needed to tap the same functionality in its processors and chipsets available to McAfee. In addition, Intel pledged to continue having McAfee software support the products of rival chipmakers, which would include Advanced Micro Devices. The European Commission will monitor Intel for compliance.
"The commitments submitted by Intel strike the right balance, as they allow preserving both competition and the beneficial effects of the merger," Joaquin Almunia, commission VP in charge of competition policy, said in a statement. "These changes will ensure that vigorous competition is maintained and that consumers get the best result in terms of price, choice, and quality of the IT security products."
Intel shook up the security landscape last summer when it announced plans to buy the antivirus software maker for $7.68 billion. The acquisition would give Intel the opportunity to offer computer makers processors that have been tightly integrated with security software for PCs, servers, and mobile devices. Whether this will prove an insurmountable challenge for other security vendors remains to be seen.
Intel argues that the integration of security software and processors has to be taken to a new level in order to protect computers against the growing range of viruses, malware, and spyware. Those threats have led to increased spending by consumers and businesses concerned with identity theft, piracy, and other types of cyberattacks.
Intel believes that security has become the third customer requirement in processors. The other two are energy-efficient performance and Internet connectivity.
The EC approval means Intel is likely to meet its goal of completing the acquisition during the current quarter.