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LG, Sharp Admit Guilt In Price Fixing

December 10, 2008

LG Display Co Ltd and Sharp Corp on Tuesday agreed to plead guilty to charges of price fixing in the market of thin-film transistor liquid crystal displays, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

LG Display will pay $400 million in fines ““ the second-largest criminal fine ever imposed by the department, behind a $500 million fine on F.Hoffmann-La Roche, a Swiss pharmaceutical giant.

Meanwhile, Sharp agreed to pay $120 million, the Justice Department said.

The companies will be sentenced on December 16 in the U.S. district court in San Francisco.

“These price-fixing conspiracies affected millions of American consumers who use computers, cellphones and numerous other household electronics every day,” Thomas Barnett, assistant attorney general in charge of the department’s antitrust division, said in a statement.

LG Display, Sharp and Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd were cooperating with U.S. authorities, the Justice Department said last month.

The LCD market was also under scrutiny from antitrust authorities in Europe and Asia.

“These companies were trying to get a toehold to protect profits in a very difficult market,” said Richard Doherty, director of research at Envisioneering, a technology consulting firm.

Meanwhile, prices in the LCD market continue to fall by as much as half each year.

In the past six months alone, the price of a 15.4-inch panel for a notebook PC has dropped to $63, from $97, and a 32-inch LCD for a television has gone to $223, from $321, according to iSuppli, a market research firm.

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