Broadcom In Antitrust’s Crosshairs, Again

Semiconductor maker Broadcom is under scrutiny from the US Federal Trade Commission following complaints it is forcing exclusive agreements with customers, The Information reported on Friday.

The FTC is in the early stages of gathering information about whether Broadcom, which has become a major supplier of WiFi and Bluetooth chips to companies like Apple Inc (AAPL.O), illegally forced exclusivity agreements on its customers, the report added.

Broadcom is blaming the supply-chain crisis to justify its demands from customers, the report said, citing people with knowledge of the situation and a document seen by The Information.

The FTC has declined to comment, while Broadcom did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

In July last year, FTC said it had filed a proposed orderto settle antitrust charges against the company. The consent order required Broadcom to stop demanding that its customers buy components mostly or only from Broadcom.Charges against Broadcom included allegedly monopolizing markets for semiconductor components for television and broadband internet services through exclusive dealing and related conduct.

The FTC is, in part, looking to determine whether the company has already violated the terms of the earlier settlement—which focused on chips for home routers and set-top cable boxes—and which was only finalized in November, some of the people said.

The agency is also investigating Broadcom’s sales practices for other products, including chips for ethernet switches, enterprise routers and wireless internet access points. The FTC looked at those products in its prior investigation, but didn’t bring formal charges against Broadcom related to them.

Broadcom reached a similar agreement with the European Commission in October 2020.

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