Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Reportedly Prepares For China Trip Amid Antitrust Probe

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Satya Nadella, which took the top job at Microsoft in February, will be the second Microsoft executive to have visited China as antitrust tensions heat up.

Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO Satya Nadella will visit China in late September, a new report said Thursday, as Chinese authorities conduct an antitrust investigation on how the Redmond-based technology giant distributes its software and Windows operating system in the country.

Microsoft is one of many overseas companies to be targeted by China in a bid to enforce a 2008 anti-monopoly law, which is overseen by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, one of China’s antitrust regulators. It is unclear if Nadella will meet with Chinese authorities to address the SAIC allegations, Reuters reported, adding that a Microsoft spokesperson did not confirm the visit, saying only that the company keeps executive travel plans secret.

Earlier in August, SAIC launched an antitrust probe into Microsoft, charging the company of violating anti-monopoly laws regarding compatibility and bundling of its Windows OS and Office suite of applications. Nadella, who took over the top job at Microsoft from Steve Ballmer in February, will be the second Microsoft executive to visit China this year as antitrust tensions heat up. Mary Snapp, the company’s deputy general counsel, met with SAIC officials in Beijing earlier this month to discuss the company's actions in the country.

On Tuesday, SAIC chief Zhang Mao said at a briefing that officials are focusing on Microsoft’s distribution of its media player and browser software in China, in addition to the Windows OS and Office suite of applications.

Microsoft's executives “have said it would actively cooperate with our probe,” the Wall Street Journal quoted Zhang as saying. “It is still too early to say what the results of the investigation would be, but no matter what, companies must obey Chinese laws.”

Last month, about 100 SAIC investigators conducted surprise inspections of Microsoft’s offices in many Chinese cities, and seized emails and other documents. In May, the Chinese government announced that it would ban the use of Windows 8 operating system in government computers, in protest of the company’s decision to suspend tech support for Windows XP, which is widely used in the country.

European automakers BMW and Audi too have been accused of flouting the country’s anti-monopoly law and face hefty fines. Nadella will be the second major tech executive to visit China amid the antitrust crackdown. Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM) president Derek Aberle met with China's National Development and Reform Commission last week to resolve the company’s own antitrust issues in the country.

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