The Chinese State Administration for Market Regulation claims to have uncovered 'massive evidence' into anti-competitive behaviour by Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix, and Micron Technology, jointly responsible for the overwhelming majority of the global dynamic RAM (DRAM) market.
During an ongoing anti-monopoly investigation by the Chinese State Administration for Market Regulation, anti-monopoly bureau head Wu Zenghou is quoted by the Financial Times (subscription required) as having found considerable evidence against the three target companies: Korean Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix, and US Micron Technology. 'The anti-monopoly investigation into these three companies has made important progress,' the paper quotes Wu as claiming. '[It] has yielded massive evidence.'
The nation's investigation comes on the back of rising memory prices and a collusion suit filed in the US naming Samsung, SK Hynix, and Micron as having 'agreed to collectively raise the price of memory used in mobile phones and computers from 2016-2017, illegally inflating the price paid by consumers' and having 'agreed to limit the supply of DRAM, a critical component of phones and computers – therefore driving up prices for this widely used memory.' Reaching further back, Samsung and SK Hynix were fined by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) in 2005 and by the European Commission in 2010 in further cases of price-fixing.
If found guilty, the companies could face fines of more than £2 billion, but some - including Macquarie analyst Daniel Kim - have suggested the entire investigation may simply be part of China's negotiating position in its ongoing trade war with the US, or a means of boosting native semiconductor company Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit, itself currently under investigation for claims it had misappropriated trade secrets from Micron in order to launch its DRAM products.
Neither Samsung, SK Hynix, nor Micron have issued comment on the investigation.
February 17 2020 | 09:00