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EU fines Qualcomm $272 mil. for pricing

BloombergBRUSSELS (Bloomberg) — Qualcomm Inc. was fined €242 million ($272 million) by European Union antitrust regulators for deliberately pricing some chips so low they could eliminate a smaller rival.

The penalty comes a year after Qualcomm was ordered to pay €997 million for thwarting rival suppliers to Apple Inc. The EU said Thursday’s fine was 1.27 percent of Qualcomm’s revenue last year and “aimed at deterring market players” from trying the same thing.

The Qualcomm investigation targeted 3G chips for internet mobile dongles sold between 2009 and 2011. Regulators said these were sold below cost to Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp., “two strategically important customers,” in order to push Icera, now owned by Nvidia Corp., out of the market.

“Icera was becoming a viable supplier of UMTS chipsets providing high data rate performance, thus posing a growing threat to Qualcomm’s chipset business,” the EU said.

Companies have complained about the slow pace of EU antitrust enforcement in fast-moving technology markets. Icera sought to draw in the EU by filing a complaint in 2010. It was sold to Nvidia a year later in 2011. The EU opened an investigation four years after that.Speech

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