AU Optronics (AUO) and Chi Mei Optoelectronics (CMO) received a Statement of Objections from the EU Commission regarding a price-fixing cartel of several LCD panel makers. AUO announced that it will reply after closely reviewing the document while CMO stated that the company will fully cooperate with the EU Commission’s investigation.
LG Display, Sharp, Chunghwa Picture Tubes (CPT) plead guilty to price fixing charges made by the US District Court in San Francisco in 2008 and paid a fine totaling US$585 million. Hitachi Display also paid a US$31 million fine in March 2009 after pleading guilty.
A fine of several hundreds of millions of dollars for AUO and CMO will have a significant impact on their bottom line. The EU investigation has come at a critical juncture as LCD manufacturers are just turning the corner toward profits. It is interesting that Samsung, the largest LCD manufacturer in the world, has not been charged yet.