German regulator launches antitrust review of Microsoft

FILE PHOTO: Small figurines are seen in front of displayed Microsoft logo in this illustration taken February 11, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Ilustration

BERLIN (Reuters) -Germany's antitrust regulator is reviewing Microsoft's market power in a move that could lead to an investigation of the U.S. tech giant's business practices and potential bans if they are found to damage competition.

The Bundeskartellamt said it would decide whether Microsoft should be designated as a company "of paramount significance for competition across markets".

"Such a finding would allow us to take action at an early stage and prohibit possible anti-competitive practices," Bundeskartellamt President Andreas Mundt said.

A Microsoft spokesperson said: "As a major technology company, we are mindful of our heightened responsibility to support a healthy competitive environment."

"We will engage constructively with the Bundeskartellamt as they seek to understand our role in digital markets," the spokesperson added in an emailed statement.

The proceedings mark the first stage in a two-step process and do not yet entail an assessment of specific practices at the company, the regulator said in a statement.

"If complaints or other information suggest that there are indications of Microsoft engaging in potentially anti-competitive practices, a separate decision will have to be issued in this matter – also in consultation with the European Commission and possibly other competition authorities," it said.

The German authority has already declared Google parent Alphabet and Facebook owner Meta companies of paramount significance for competition across markets.

(Writing by Rachel MoreEditing by Friederike Heine and Mark Potter)

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