China has launched a probe into Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix and Micron Technology amid suspicions of price collusion in the DRAM memory chip market, Reuters reports.
Authorities are investigating price-fixing allegations as DRAM prices have risen sharply, the report said, citing a source with knowledge of the matter.
“The investigation has kicked off in earnest,” the source was quoted as saying.
Samsung and SK Hynix contend that there has been no price-fixing, a senior South Korean government official said.
“It is a situation where strong demand is boosting prices and factories can’t keep up with that level of demand even at full capacity,” Moon Sung-wook, an industry ministry official, told Reuters.
South Korea’s industry minister, who is visiting Beijing as part of efforts to boost his country’s investment in China, is said to have asked his Chinese counterpart for fair treatment for South Korean companies involved in the probe.
Samsung, SK Hynix and Micron all admitted that officials from China’s State Administration for Market Regulation had visited their offices recently.
A Samsung spokesman said the company is cooperating with the Chinese authorities.
Prices for DRAM chips, which help devices perform multiple tasks, have more than doubled in two years.
Although China is investing heavily to build up its chip industry, it is currently the largest importer of memory products, consuming 20 percent of the world’s DRAM.
A potential probe was first flagged late last year when Chinese state media reported that regulators approached South Korea’s Samsung over rising prices.
Samsung, SK Hynix and Micron Technology together control 96 percent of the DRAM chip market.
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