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Fri, Feb 29, 2008 - Page 10 News List

Sharp, Hitachi accused of

AP , TOKYO

Japan's fair trade watchdog raided two electronics companies yesterday on suspicion of fixing prices of display panels for Nintendo's popular DS portable game machines, officials said.

Fair Trade Commission investigators searched several offices and factories of Sharp Corp and Hitachi Display Ltd, a display unit of Hitachi, a commission official said on condition of anonymity, citing internal policy.

The two firms are accused of fixing prices of liquid-crystal-display (LCD) panels before supplying them to Nintendo for its DS consoles since around 2005, he said.

Osaka-based Sharp and Tokyo-based Hitachi Display are the only two suppliers of small LCD panels for DS and DS Lite models produced by Nintendo Co, and the allegation deals an embarrassing blow to the leading game maker.

Sharp has been supplying the panels since DS machines debuted in November 2004, and Hitachi Display became a second DS panel supplier for Nintendo a year later, the official said.

Investigators believe the alleged price-fixing began around the time of Hitachi's participation, he said.

Violators of an anti-monopoly law face a fine of 10 percent of their sales.

Sharp and Hitachi Display acknowledged yesterday's raid. Sharp spokeswoman Miyuki Nakayama said she could not release any details of the allegations. Hitachi Display spokesman Masayuki Ishibashi said the raid involved its LCD products, but he could not identify its client.

Nintendo spokesman Yasuhiro Minagawa said it was too early to comment on the impact of the allegations or whether to consider changing panel suppliers.

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