Chinese cartel busters impose record fines on foreign LCD makers

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The National Development and Reform Commission has started 2013 with a bang. On 4 January 2013, it announced that it had imposed sanctions of close to $56 million on six liquid crystal display makers from Korea and Taiwan, accusing the companies of illegal price-fixing.

These sanctions set an absolute record for antitrust offenses in China. NDRC’s decision is also significant in that it is the first that exclusively sanctions “foreign” companies (from outside Mainland China).

LCD panels are the main components of flat TV and computer monitors. China’s many TV and computer makers are buyers of LCD panels, and hence were the direct victims of the pricefixing activities.

The companies punished by NDRC are Samsung and LG from South Korea, and Chimei, AU Optronics, Chunghwa Picture Tubes and HannStar from Taiwan. With the exception of LG, these companies were also fined by the European Commission for the same cartel activities in 2010, and some of them were also targeted in investigations by the US Department of Justice and/or sued in private litigation in the United States…

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