European Commission fines 6 LCD panel producers for € 648 million

Thursday, 16 December 2010

The European Commission has fined 6 LCD panel producers for more than € 648 million in total for making illegal cartel arrangements. The six producers are Samsung Electronics, LG Display, AU Optronics, Chimei Innolux Corporation, Chunghwa Picture Tubes and HannStar Display Corporation. All companies are from either Korea or Taiwan. 

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) panels are the main component of thin, flat screens used in amongst others, televisions, computer monitors and electronic notebooks. The six producers concluded price arrangements, exchanged information on future production planning, capacity utilisation, pricing and other commercial conditions during the period October 2001 – February 2006. In addition to monthly meetings during which all producers were present, they also held bilateral meetings. In total they met around 60 times mainly in hotels in Taiwan for the so called “Crystal meetings”.

The European Commission is of the opinion that the illegal arrangements have had direct impact on the European market because the vast majority of televisions, computer monitors and notebooks incorporating those LCD panels and sold in Europe comes from Asia. Joaquin Almunia, European Competition Commissioner, has stated that foreign companies need to understand that if they want to do business in Europe they must play fair. In addition to the European Commission also the American, Japanese and Korean antitrust authorities have started investigations into the illegal arrangements of LCD panel producers. In the United States several LCD panel producers already received a fine for their illegal behaviour.

Samsung Electronics received full immunity under the European Commission’s leniency notice. The undertaking went to the European Commission with valuable information to prove the infringements. Therefore Samsung Electronics did not need to pay any fine. Also the fine of other undertakings was reduced. For example, LG Display received a reduction of 50% with resulted in a fine of € 215 million.