Less than six months after Broadcom and the Federal Trade Commission formally settled an antitrust probe of the chip giant, the company is back in the agency’s crosshairs following complaints that it is once again forcing exclusive agreements with customers, according to people with knowledge of the situation and a document seen by The Information. Those people say Broadcom is blaming the supply chain crisis to justify its demands from customers.
The FTC is in the early stages of gathering information about whether the company—a dominant supplier of chips for products including routers and data center equipment—illegally forced exclusivity agreements on its customers, the people said. Similar allegations were at the heart of the FTC’s earlier multiyear probe of Broadcom, which culminated in a settlement last year in which Broadcom agreed to stop forcing exclusive purchase agreements for chips in routers and cable boxes.
The current regulatory attention is being driven by companies complaining about Broadcom’s behavior, but the FTC is following up on those discussions with requests for documents and testimony from the complaining companies, indicating it is taking the issue seriously, according to the people with knowledge of the matter.