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South Korea Antitrust Body Investigating Qualcomm (Update)

The commission will look into whether Qualcomm is abusing its dominant market position.

Reuters / Albert Gea

* Probe follows record fine against Qualcomm in China

* S.Korea fined Qualcomm more than $200 mln in 2009 (Updates with regulator declining comment, background)

South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission is investigating Qualcomm Inc, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday, adding to antitrust woes for the U.S. chipmaker following a record fine it agreed to pay in China.

The person, who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter, declined to elaborate further.

South Korea’s Maeil Business newspaper, without citing direct sources, reported that the commission will look into whether Qualcomm is abusing its dominant market position.

As part of its investigation, the commission plans to send inquiries to domestic smartphone makers such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd as well as Qualcomm competitors like Intel Corp, the newspaper said.

Qualcomm, the Fair Trade Commission and Samsung Electronics declined to comment. Intel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Qualcomm is also dealing with antitrust probes in Europe and the United States. In their investigation of Qualcomm, Chinese antitrust officials had met with their South Korean counterparts, Reuters reported in August.

In 2009, South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission fined Qualcomm more than $200 million for abusing its dominant market position.

On Monday, chipmaker agreed to a $975 million fine in China to end a 14-month government investigation into anti-competitive practices.

As part of the China deal, the company will also be required to cut royalty rates on patents used in China, which could help smartphone makers such as Xiaomi Inc and Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.

(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin and Se Young Lee; editing by Tony Munroe and Edwina Gibbs)

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