Intel’s acquisition of McAfee approved by FTC

Chipmaker Intel’s acquisition of security and antivirus software developer McAfee has been approved by the U.S. Federal Trade Commision, according to a notice posted on Intel’s Web site. The approval clears the way for Intel to begin integrating McAfee products and services into its product lines, although the company is still working with the European Commission for approval on the deal.

Intel announced last August that it intended to acquire McAfee in a deal valued at $7.68 billion. The acquisition is not only the biggest in Intel’s history, it signals a shift in the company’s business strategy: where Intel has historically focused on developing and manufacturing hardware—processors and chipsets—the McAfee acquisition shifts the company strongly towards software and services. Although Intel hasn’t been specific about its plans for McAfee technology, it’s a good bet the company will be looking at hardware-enhanced security capabilities for its CPUs and chipsets, particularly as the company shifts its attention to mobile devices.

Although industry watchers didn’t expect Intel to have much difficulty getting the deal approved by the FTC—and few see significant obstacles with the European Commission—some have speculated that, as a result of the merger, McAfee products may have insider access to the design, features, and capabilities of Intel hardware products, giving them an edge on competing products.

Last year, the European Union fined Intel over $1.4 billion for violating antitrust regulations via kickbacks and squeezing out other CPU vendors from the market. Intel was able to settle a similar antitrust case with the FTC without fines shortly before announcing the McAfee acquisition.

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