* Intel agrees to provide interoperability information
* Intel pledges not to block rivals on chips, computers
* Intel expects to close acquisition before end of March
(Adds detail and quote from Intel, analyst's quote, stock
By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS, Jan 26 Intel's (INTC.O) acquisition
of data security firm McAfee Inc MFE.N cleared its last major
hurdle after EU regulators approved the $7.68 billion deal on
condition Intel grant rival firms access to its technology.
World No. 1 chipmaker Intel said it now expects to close
the acquisition, which it aims to use bolster the security of
Internet-connected devices, before the end of the first
Intel secured clearance from the U.S. Federal Trade
Commission on Dec. 21 to acquire McAfee, the world's No. 2
maker of security software after Symantec Corp (SYMC.O). The
deal will be Intel's largest acquisition to date.
The decision on Wednesday by the European Commission, the
EU competition watchdog, confirmed a Reuters report on Jan. 20.
"The commitments submitted by Intel strike the right
balance, as they allow preserving both competition and the
beneficial effects of the merger," EU Competition Commissioner
Joaquin Almunia said in a statement on Wednesday.
Intel agreed to ensure that rival security firms have
access to all necessary information that would allow their
products to use Intel's chips and central processing units, the
The company also pledged not to actively block competitors'
security solutions from running on its products. It will avoid
hampering the operation of McAfee's products when these are
used in personal computers containing products sold by Intel's
"We believe the agreement addresses the concerns of the
Commision, meanwhile allowing Intel and McAfee to continue to
innovate in the critical area of security," Intel spokesman
Chuck Mulloy told Reuters.
Intel's processors are the brains in 80 percent of the
world's personal computers and the company wants to expand its
chips into mobile gadgets as well as everything from street
signs and home appliances, which could all eventually be
"Every single device is becoming Internet-enabled. This
probably sounds like a crazy idea but at some time it could be
possible to hack into your refrigerator," said Arnab Chanda, an
analyst at Roth Capital Partners. He said the European
regulator's conditions would not interfere with Intel's goal of
making its chips more secure.
Shares of Intel were up 1.4 percent at $21.85 in afternoon
trading. McAfee shares were up 0.5 percent to $47.96, close to
the $48 a share in cash that Intel will pay.
(Additional reporting by Noel Randewich in San Francisco;
Editing by Tim Dobbyn)
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Louise Heavens and Tim