China fines LCD makers for collusion

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China fines LCD makers for collusion

Samsung Display and LG Display, the world’s two leading display makers, have been slapped a combined fine of $35 million by the Chinese government for colluding to fix prices of their liquid crystal displays.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission said yesterday it imposed fines of 101 million yuan ($16.2 million) on Samsung and 118 million yuan on LG, for rigging prices of LCD panels supplied to Chinese television makers from 2001 through 2006.

Four Taiwanese producers - Chi Mei Optoelectronics, AU Optronics, Chunghwa Picture Tubes and HannStar Display - were fined a total of 353 million yuan.

“The six companies involved held a total of 53 rounds of Crystal Conferences, claiming they exchange information on the global LCD market,” the commission said in a statement. It said the conferences were used to collude on fixing prices.

This is the first time that the Chinese government has fined foreign companies for antitrust practices in the country. The United States and the European Union have fined panel makers for fixing prices before.

A U.S. court said in December 2011 that Samsung, Sharp and six other makers of panels for TVs and computers agreed to pay a total of $388 million to settle price-fixing claims by consumers. The European Union in December 2010 fined six LCD producers a combined 649 million euros for price fixing.

The Chinese commission said nine local TV makers including Konka Group, Changhong Electric, Skyworth Group and TCL were given a total of 162 million yuan as refunds for the overpriced panels, which was paid out of the fines.

Samsung Display said in a statement it stopped participating in any form of price fixing at the end of 2005 and that it will abide by China’s fair-trade law.

LG Display said in a statement it does not expect the Chinese authorities’ decision to impact its relationship with customers or its panel sales.

By Seo Ji-eun [spring@joongang.co.kr]

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