Chipmaker Intel yesterday admitted it was under investigation by the European Commission regarding its licensing policies and general business practices.

"We are cooperating with the Commission," said an Intel spokesperson. "But that is all we are prepared to say at this time."

The Commission's enquiry will focus on Intel's licensing of its Pentium 4 interface, following industry criticisms of anticompetitive practices.

The enquiry will also focus on 'broader marketing practices.' Neither the Commission nor Intel was willing to comment on the specifics.

"We believe our business practices are both fair and lawful," the company said in a general statement yesterday.

If the EC finds Intel guilty of anticompetitive practices, it could face fines of up to 10 percent of its annual sales. Such high fines are rare, however.

The investigation may be a setback to Intel's announcement today that they plan to become the top provider of chips and software to the industry under their newly-appointed executive vice president, Sean Maloney.

"Our goal is to cement our position as the number one supplier of building blocks," said Maloney, in a press statement.