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South Korea fines flat-panel LCD display makers

The Fair Trade Commission said the companies colluded to keep the price of LCD displays artificially high

South Korea's competition watchdog has fined 10 LCD makers a total of 195 billion won ($176 million) for allegedly holding secret meetings to keep the prices for flat screen displays artificially high.

The 10 companies, which collectively held 80 percent market share for LCD screens, held more than 200 secret "crystal meetings" between 2001 and 2006, according to an investigator for the Fair Trade Commission in Seoul. He said prices should have fallen naturally over time.

The companies are Samsung Japan, Samsung Electronics, Samsung Electronics Taiwan, LG Display, LG Display Taiwan, LG Display Japan, AU Optronics, Chimei Innolux Display, Chungwha Picture Tubes and HannStar Display.

Samsung Electronics along with its associated companies in Taiwan and Japan were hit with the largest fine at 97.2 billion won. The three LG units collectively received a 65.5 billion won fine, followed by AU Optronics at 28.5 billion won.

The Korean case mirrors a decision by the European Commission last December. The Commission found LG Display, AU Optronics, Chimei InnoLux, Chunghwa Picture Tubes and HannStar Display guilt of forming a cartel to fix prices between 2002 and 2006.

The Commission's case, which also mentioned the crystal meetings, resulted in fines totaling €649 million (US$865 million). Samsung was also part of the case, but was not fined since it had tipped off the Commission. Chimei Innolux received the largest fine of €300 million, and LG Display was fined €215 million.


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