Intel to respond quickly to antitrust queries on deal with STMicroelectronics

Intel Corp. plans to respond quickly to a U.S. Federal Trade Commission request for more information on a plan to merge its flash memory chip business with that of Switzerland's STMicroelectronics NV.

Intel will send "a very rapid response" to the Federal Trade Commission, which is conducting an antitrust review of the planned merger, chairman Craig Barrett, who is currently touring India, told reporters.

Barrett said he also expected "a rapid response back from FTC."

Intel and Geneva-based STMicroelectronics have agreed to combine their NOR flash memory chip units with each holding an equity stake of around 45 percent in the joint venture.

NOR flash chips are mainly used in wireless handsets, but are also found in portable music players, digital cameras and computers.

The leading manufacturers of the chips _ Spansion Inc., Intel and STMicro _ are struggling to make a profit on the technology because of low prices and analysts have said the industry is ripe for consolidation.

The merged venture of Intel and STMicro _ to be named Numonyx _ will become the world's biggest supplier of NOR flash chips with combined annual revenue of US$3.6 billion.

It is not common for the Federal Trade Commission, which issued a second request for information to Intel last week, to ask for more information on such mergers.

In the year ended Sept. 30, it issued second requests in the case of only 46 of the 1,768 merger deals that were subject to the Hart-Scott Rodino Act regulating antitrust issues, according to official data.

Santa Clara, California-based Intel and STMicro earlier said they want to close the deal before the end of 2007.

"The European Union has already given approval (on the proposed deal)," Barrett said.