Japan FTC raids Sharp, Hitachi

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TOKYO -- The Fair Trade Commission in Japan announced Thursday that it has raided the offices of Sharp Corp. and Hitachi Displays on suspicion of colluding on the price of LCD screens for the Nintendo DS.

The anti-monopoly watchdog said it had searched offices and factories at Sharp and Hitachi Display, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hitachi, looking for evidence that the two companies had fixed the price of the display panels for the best-selling DS portable game console.

FTC officials believe Sharp and Hitachi, who supply all the panels for the game, have been engaged in illegal price arrangements since 2005. Sharp was the sole supplier of panels to the DS when it launched in 2004 and the illegal agreements are believed to have started when Hitachi also began supplying the component the following year.

Companies found guilty of anti-competitive practices in Japan are fined 10% of their sales.

Spokespeople from the companies involved said it was too early to comment on the allegations or their implications for future business relations between them.

The Nintendo DS has sold more than 65 million units worldwide and has been a profit-driver for the Kyoto-based company and its component suppliers.
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