Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

U.S. Challenges Computer Merger Justice Dept. Opposes Microsoft's Buyout of Intuit

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

U.S. Challenges Computer Merger Justice Dept. Opposes Microsoft's Buyout of Intuit

Article excerpt

Microsoft Corp.'s proposed acquisition of Intuit Inc. was challenged Thursday by the Justice Department, which said the largest merger in software industry history would damage competition and raise consumer prices.

Microsoft and Intuit said they will fight the antitrust lawsuit and will press to complete the takeover of Intuit, maker of the dominant Quicken personal finance software.

"Our enthusiasm for bringing Intuit and Microsoft together is very, very strong - exactly what it was when we decided to come together," said Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. "We see increased competition coming through the kind of opportunities we'll be pursuing as two companies joined together."

Intuit's chairman, Steve Cook, said he is "100 percent committed to this merger with Microsoft. We are resolute," Cook said. "We will see this through to make it happen because we believe we are right, and this is good for consumers."

The suit marks the latest punishing legal blow for Microsoft, the world's leading software firm. It has been embroiled for almost five years in an unrelated federal antitrust probe into allegations that it has become too big for fair competition. That case has not yet been resolved.

In the case filed Thursday in a federal court in San Francisco, the Justice Department said it was looking out for America's computer users.

"Allowing Microsoft to buy a dominant position in this highly concentrated market (for personal finance software) would likely result in higher prices for consumers . . . and would cause those buyers to miss out on the huge benefits from innovation," said Assistant Attorney General Anne K. Bingaman, head of the Justice Department's antitrust division.

Intuit stock plummeted on news of the suit. In a matter of minutes, Intuit shares fell as much as 12 points before trading was halted on the Nasdaq Stock Market at 1:54 p. …

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