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Samsung damns DRAM price-fixing charge

'Total nonsense'

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Samsung did not attempt to drive DRAM prices down even further in a bid to push lesser players out of business, and it rejects any claims that it did, the company has said.

The denial followed comments, reported in the Financial Times yesterday, from Infineon chief Ulrich Schumacher that the recent lift in DRAM prices had come about not because of increased demand but because a Korean rival's scheme to lower memory prices artificially had come to an abrupt end.

"The guy who artificially pushed prices down realised it did not make sense now," he said, referring to Hynix's $7 billion rescue plan, recently agreed to by the ailing chip maker's creditors. "If [Hynix] are going to be around for another four to five months, they realised they would not have enough money to do that."

Schumacher doesn't appear to have explicitly pinned the blame on Samsung, but as the only other major Korean memory player besides Hynix, most observers took his comments to refer to that company.

But Samsung maintains its innocence and damned Schumacher's comments as "total nonsense".

"Just one company could not decide the price," company spokesman James Chung told Reuters.

Well if it cut prices enough to force its rivals to follow suit, it could, but there's no sign that Samsung did. DRAM have prices tumbled throughout the year to the point where almost all memory makers are selling product at below cost price. If Samsung did push a little harder, it would only have been hastening the decline, not initiating it.

And memory vendor DRAMeXchange blames all the major producers for controlling shipments, rather than a single company pressuring the market into a change of pricing direction.

That said, both Samsung and Hynix have already come under fire for allegedly pushing down prices. Micron has asked the US government to issue a complaint to the World Trade Organisation alleging that Hynix dumped DRAM onto the US market. And four Japanese memory makers - NEC, Toshiba, Matsushita and Hitachi - have asked their government to bring their own dumping allegations regarding Samsung and Hynix to the WTO's attention. In Europe, Infineon is believed to have made similar moves. ®

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