By Gerry Shih and Paul Carsten
BEIJING (Reuters) – Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella is set to visit China in late September, a source familiar with the matter said on Thursday, as the Chinese government conducts an antitrust investigation into the world’s largest software company.
It is not clear if Nadella, who took over as Microsoft CEO in February, will meet with any Chinese government representatives as part of his visit, or try to resolve issues with the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), one of China’s antitrust regulators.
A Microsoft spokesman would not confirm the visit, saying the company does not comment on executive travel plans. SAIC officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Microsoft is one of many foreign firms to have come under scrutiny as China seeks to enforce a 2008 anti-monopoly law, which some critics say is being used to unfairly target overseas businesses.
Foreign CEOs often pay calls on the world’s second-largest economy to strengthen business and political ties. Nadella would be at least the second major tech executive to have visited the country as antitrust tensions simmer.
Qualcomm Inc President Derek Aberle, looking to end to the wireless chip giant’s own antitrust scrutiny, met with China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) last week.
Nadella’s predecessor, Steve Ballmer, did occasionally go to China in his 14 years as CEO, but visits were rare to a country where Windows and Office are widely pirated. Ballmer said in 2011 that Microsoft got more revenue in the Netherlands than China.
Microsoft Deputy General Counsel Mary Snapp already met with SAIC officials in Beijing earlier this month to discuss the antitrust matter.
Despite the rampant Windows piracy, China’s SAIC initiated an antitrust probe into Microsoft earlier this month, saying that the company may have broken anti-monopoly laws regarding compatibility, bundling and document authentication for its Windows operating system and Office suite of applications.
On Tuesday, SAIC head Zhang Mao said at a briefing in Beijing his organization – one of three antitrust regulators in China – was focusing on Microsoft’s web browser and media player, and suspected the company had not been fully transparent with information about its Windows and Office sales. [ID:nL3N0QW1C5]
The investigation has been met with puzzlement outside China, given that Microsoft settled U.S. and European antitrust cases around Windows more than a decade ago, and its desktop software monopoly is now largely irrelevant with the explosion of tablets and phones running Apple Inc or Google Inc software.
The probe comes amid a spate of antitrust probes against foreign firms in China, including Qualcomm and German car maker Daimler AG’s luxury auto unit Mercedes-Benz, renewing fears of Chinese protectionism.
(Additional reporting by Bill Rigby in Seattle; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
[Image: Satya Nadella, Microsoft Corp chief executive, attends the unveil event of the new Microsoft Surface Pro 3 in New York on May 20, 2014. By Brendan McDermid for Reuters]
‘It’s treachery if not treason’: Harvard’s Laurence Tribe destroys Trump’s claim he’s above the law
Legendary constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe explained the legality of President Donald Trump's claim to be above the law during a Thursday evening appearance on MSNBC's "The Last Word" with Lawrence O'Donnell.
The host played a notorious clip of Trump.
"I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters. Okay? It’s like incredible," Trump argued.
"And now he has gone beyond that," O'Donnell noted. "Now the president is sayin, 'I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and I cannot be prosecuted for that crime. Or any crime.'"
Internet blown away by Giuliani’s ‘pants-sh*tting panic’ freak out on CNN’s Cuomo
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani received harsh reviews of his Thursday evening appearance on CNN with anchor Chris Cuomo.
Many people worried about Giuliani's mental health after watching the interview.
Here is some of what people were saying about Trump's defense attorney.
Maddow is visibly shocked Trump is claiming in court the president can’t even be investigated
The host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC was flabbergasted by the latest court moves by President Donald Trump as he continues to hide his tax returns from investigators.
The host noted the ongoing legal battle Trump is waging to keep his accounting firm, Mazars, from handing over eight years of his tax returns to New York state investigators.
The host was shocked by the headline on the front-page of The Washington Post website.
[caption id="attachment_1544917" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Headline in The New York Times: "Trump Lawyers Argue He Cannot Be Criminally Investigated" screengrab.[/caption]