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© mikael damkier dreamstime.com Components | May 18, 2017

EC clears Brocade acquisition; with add-on conditions

The European Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition of Brocade by chip maker Broadcom, subject to conditions on interoperability and protection of competitors' confidential information.
Broadcom's and Brocade's activities do not overlap since the companies supply different products. However, the Commission had competition concerns regarding the relationship between the parties created by the transaction as notified, as well as regarding the complementarity between Broadcom's and Brocade's products.

The Commission's investigation focused on two areas: chips needed for Fibre Channel Storage Area Network and Internet Protocol networking products, and switches and cards for Fibre Channel Storage Area Networks, which are complementary products.
  • Chips for networking products: The Commission's investigation showed that there is no risk of shutting out competition in relation to chips supplied by Broadcom (off-the-shelf and custom-built). This is because there are other chip manufacturers that represent a viable alternative to competitors of the merged entity in the markets for the supply of two types of network products: Fibre Channel Storage Area Network products and Internet Protocol networking products. However, the Commission had some concerns about the relationship created by the transaction in markets for Fibre Channel Storage Area Network products. In particular, the Commission had concerns that confidential information from competitors could be used by the merged entity to favour its own products.
  • Switches and cards for Fibre Channel Storage Area Network: The Commission also investigated whether the merged entity would have the ability and incentive to bundle the complementary Fibre Channel Storage Area Network products of Broadcom and Brocade. Brocade supplies switch devices, whereas Broadcom manufactures Host Bus Adaptor (HBA) cards. The Commission's investigation showed that there is no risk of the merged entity squeezing out competing switch devices or HBA cards suppliers by commercially bundling these two products. However, the Commission had concerns that the merged entity could degrade the interoperability between its own Fibre Channel switches and the HBA cards of competing vendors. This would be to the detriment of the latter and in favour of its own HBA cards.
To address these concerns, Broadcom committed to cooperate closely and in a timely manner with competing HBA cards suppliers to achieve the same level of interoperability as that of its own HBA cards and to protect third party confidential information.

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November 14 2017 8:30 PM V8.8.9-1