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Reports from South Korea said that a potential agreement between the top five chaebols to swap business units has fallen apart, with LG Semicon and Hyundai, in particular, sharply disagreeing over the swapping of their semiconductor businesses. Tomorrow’s (Thursday’s) issue of the Korea Herald reported an official from the Federation of Korean Industries as saying there were sharp differences between the two conglomerates. An LG Semicon representative was reported as saying that it had no intention of giving up control of a unified semiconductor company to Hyundai. Hyundai wants to take over LG Semicon’s business but the two companies disagree over which of them has a controlling stake. The further twist in the long-running saga will not be welcomed by the rest of the memory industry across the world. Plummeting DRAM prices have squeezed memory distributors’ margins to the limit, while there are reliable reports that the European Union will investigate whether Korean companies have been dumping memories at below cost price. There is a deadline of 10 September for the talks. ®

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