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Sharp, Seven Panel Makers Pay $388 Million in Antitrust Case

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Dec. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Sharp Corp., Samsung Electronics Co., and six other makers of liquid crystal display panels used in computers and televisions agreed to pay $388 million to settle price-fixing claims by direct purchasers of the products.

Sharp, Japan’s largest panel maker, paid $105 million; Samsung, the world’s largest TV maker, paid $82.7 million; and Chimei Innolux Corp., Taiwan’s largest maker of display panels, paid $78 million, according to filings yesterday in San Francisco federal court.

The companies allegedly fixed prices of the panels, driving up prices for purchasers who bought the screens or goods containing them from 1999 to 2006, according to a class action, or group lawsuit, filed in 2007.

The litigation stemmed from a U.S. Justice Department investigation that led to guilty pleas by LG Display Co., Chunghwa Picture Tubes and Sharp. The companies agreed in 2008 and 2009 to pay $585 million in criminal fines, the U.S. said.

In the class action accord, the companies denied wrongdoing. A federal judge gave preliminary approval to the eight settlements Oct. 4, according to court records. A final approval hearing is scheduled for Dec. 19.

Chris Goodhart, a spokeswoman for Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment about the settlement. E-mails seeking comment after normal business hours sent to Miyuki Nakayama, a spokeswoman for Osaka-based Sharp, and from Miaoli, Taiwan-based Chimei’s public relations department, weren’t immediately answered.

The case is In Re TFT-LCD (Flat Panel) Antitrust Litigation, 07-01827, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (San Francisco).

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Gullo in San Francisco at kgullo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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