Feds probe Micron, Samsung

Memory chipmakers Micron Technology Inc., Boise ID, and Samsung Semiconductor Inc. of Seoul, Korea, have received subpoenas seeking information as part of a federal investigation into alleged anticompetitive practices, speculated to be dumping.

Officials at both companies said the US Department of Justice actions were part of an industrywide investigation and said their companies would cooperate.

Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s largest maker of computer memory chips called dynamic random access memory, or DRAM, said Wednesday its US sales unit received the subpoena Monday, reported the Associated Press.

“Samsung believes it has not violated any laws,” the company said.

It said the Department of Justice has launched an “industrywide” investigation on whether manufacturers of computer memory chipmakers violated antitrust laws. It gave no further details.

Micron said late Tuesday night that it had received a grand jury subpoena Monday from the US District Court for the Northern District of California seeking information related to the investigation.

“Micron does not believe it has violated US antitrust laws,” said Micron VP of Corporate Affairs, Kipp Bedard. “The DRAM business is highly competitive and subject to extreme volatility. Competitive forces in today’s market have led to DRAM prices reaching unprecedented lows.”

German chipmaker Infineon Technologies AG said Wednesday it was aware of the US investigation.

“We will, of course, cooperate with any requests made by officials involved in that investigation,” said Infineon spokesman Guenter Gaugler. “At this time it is not known if Infineon is being investigated or being asked to provide information.”

Late last year, Micron began talks with South Korea’s Hynix Semiconductor Inc. to take over its operations. Those talks collapsed last month after Hynix board members turned down Micron’s offer to buy Hynix’s memory chip operations, despite an endorsement of the sale from Hynix creditors.

Micron proposed trading 108.6 million shares of stock, then worth $2.9 billion, for Hynix memory operations along with $200 million more for a 15 percent interest in Hynix’s non-memory operations with an assurance that Micron would get another $1.5 billion in fresh loans.
Shares of Micron were down $2.30, or almost 10 percent, to $21.30 in early trading Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.


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