EU regulator reveals cartel probe into LCD firms
The EU's competition regulator said Monday it had been investigating a number of liquid crystal display supply firms on suspicion that they might have been involved in a cartel.
"The European Commission can confirm that in May 2009 it sent a statement of objections under EU antitrust rules to a number of companies active in the supply of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels," a statement said.
The statement of objections -- a first formal step in antitrust probes -- was made "concerning their alleged participation in a cartel in violation of (EU) rules on restrictive business practices," it said.
The companies being probed were not named. They can respond to the statement of objections in writing, laying out the elements of their defence, or request an oral hearing to present their case.
Liquid crystal display panels are used in calculators, mobile telephones, digital watches and cameras, televisions and computers.
Dutch electronics giant Philips acknowledged that it had been targeted indirectly in the probe as a former shareholder in LG Display, from which it withdrew completely in March, and denied being involved in any cartel.
"Philips is not accused of breaking any law nor of direct links to the formation of any cartel," group spokesman Joon Knapen said.
"As far as we're concerned, it's more a question of working out whether the group can be held responsible in the case where the European Commission might impose a fine," he said.
LG Display is owned by South Korea's LG Electronics.
Japanese giant Sharp said it had not been notified of any action by the commission.