EU, US expand SRAM probes

November 1, 2006 – Sony Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. say they are also targets of antitrust investigations by US and EU regulators, in an ongoing investigation into price-fixing allegations regarding static random access memory (SRAM) devices, according to several reports.

Sony claims that it has been subpoenaed by the Justice Department’s antitrust division, seeking information on its SRAM business, according to . Meanwhile, Samsung said its German offices were raided on Oct. 11 as part of a European Union probe. Under EU law, a guilty verdict could result in fines of up to 10% of a company’s revenues.

In recent weeks, Cypress Semiconductor Corp. as well as Sony had indicated US antitrust regulators were making inquiries into their SRAM activities.

Mark DeVoss, senior analyst with iSuppli Corp., questioned the reasoning behind the probe, pointing out that the SRAM market is only about one-tenth the size of DRAM ($2.8 billion sales in 2005, vs. ~$24.8 billion for DRAM), and SRAM generally has relatively low selling prices. “Unless there’s something really, really, really wrong, I think this is a tempest in a teapot,” he said, quoted by the Associated Press.

The US Department of Justice has already dropped the hammer on several DRAM firms in a separate investigation, including Samsung, Elpida Memory Inc., Infineon Technologies AG, and Hynix Semiconductor Inc. resulting in some jail time for individual execs and corporate fines exceeding $700 million.


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