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The BBC's Evan Davis
"The judge said Microsoft abused its monopoly"
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banner Monday, 3 April, 2000, 21:26 GMT 22:26 UK
Microsoft shares tumble

Shares in Microsoft fell 14.5% as the company waited for the verdict in its landmark anti-trust case.

The Microsoft Trial
The fall of $15.5 to $90.75 dragged down other technology shares and contributed to a fall of 8% in the tech-heavy US Nasdaq Composite index.

That wiped $80bn from the software company's value - leaving it with a market value of $473bn.

Out-of-hours trading in its shares was halted a few minutes before District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson issued his findings of law in the case against Microsoft at 1700 local time (2100 GMT) on Monday.

This follows the breakdown at the weekend of talks aimed at settling the case brought against Microsoft by the US Government.

The Seattle-based firm faces the possibility of being broken up, although any decision by the judge is likely to go to an appeals court.

Taking remedies

Judge Jackson was widely expected to say that Microsoft violated anti-trust laws - the question is what remedies he will impose.

Microsoft is accused of illegally trying to dominate the market for web browsers with its Internet Explorer software.

Shares in the company fell almost $15 to $91.5 in early trade in New York. They closed at $106.25 on Friday.

Scott Bleier, chief investment analyst with Prime Charter, predicted that Microsoft's share price could fall as low as $90.

'Deep-seated' differences

Hopes of a settlement in the long-running case received a serious blow on Saturday when the judge trying to mediate suspended talks.

Richard Posner, a chief judge with the US Court of Appeals, said that "the quest has proved fruitless", adding that the differences between the two sides "were too deep-seated to be bridged".

Microsoft fears a hostile verdict could lead to the company being broken up - that is one of the options being considered by Judge Jackson.

"There are a lot more rounds to come and we continue to be confident that we will prevail in the end," said Microsoft's chief corporate lawyer, Bill Neukom.

We absolutely believe that the judicial system will ultimately rule in our favor.

Bill Gates

Attempts to settle the case had intensified as it neared its conclusion.

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates had expressed his willingness to reach a deal out of court.

Two weeks ago, Microsoft sent a detailed settlement proposal of almost a dozen pages to government lawyers.

Bill Gates said he was disappointed the talks had been suspended.

"It's unfortunate that a settlement wasn't possible. Microsoft certainly went the extra mile," he said.

The ruling against Microsoft could also be used in dozens of lawsuits it faces from both rivals and clients.

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03 Apr 00 | Business
Tech shares hit by Microsoft case
03 Apr 00 | Business
US v Microsoft: The spin begins
22 Feb 00 | Microsoft
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