Chinese official says there is 'substantial' price-fixing evidence against Qualcomm

A top Chinese antitrust official said there is "substantial evidence against" Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) in a price-fixing investigation.

Xu Kunlin, the head of the department of price supervision at the National Development and Reform Commission, made the disclosure when speaking to state-run, English-language media publication China Daily. Xu and the report did not give further information on the alleged evidence. 

A China-based public relations official for Qualcomm said the company had no comment on Xu's remarks, according to Reuters.

Qualcomm said last month that the NDRC had started a probe related to an anti-monopoly law (AML) in China. Analysts said the investigation could be an attempt to slow Qualcomm's business in the world's largest smartphone market.

Qualcomm said in a statement at the time that the details of the investigation are confidential, but that it was "not aware of any charge by the NDRC that Qualcomm has violated the AML." Qualcomm pledged to "continue to cooperate with the NDRC as it conducts its confidential investigation."

Analysts have speculated that the probe could be related to China's forthcoming launch of LTE services, expected first from China Mobile on or around Dec. 18. Earlier this month China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued licenses for the TD-LTE standard to the country's three carriers, China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom.

According to Reuters, analysts have said the investigation is likely a pre-emptive move to allow China's operators to gain leverage in royalty negotiations ahead of the rollout LTE service. Qualcomm could generate large revenues from licensing fees as a result of the deployments, since the new networks will require handsets with more advanced chipsets.

For more:
- see this China Daily article
- see this Reuters article

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