China announced yesterday it would fine 12 Japanese auto parts suppliers a total of US$202 million for colluding to raise prices in an unfolding anti-monopoly probe of the country’s auto industry.
Beijing has launched a series of investigations into automakers and technology suppliers under its six-year-old anti-monopoly law, in an apparent effort to force down prices. Officials said earlier that Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Chrysler also violated the law.
The Japanese suppliers were found to have colluded improperly, some for up to 10 years, to raise prices of ball bearings and other parts, according to China’s National Development and Reform Commission.
“This harmed the legitimate rights and interests of consumers,” the commission said on its Web site.
Regulators have given few details of the probe but industry analysts say they might have been motivated by complaints about the high price of imported luxury vehicles and replacement parts.
Two of the Japanese companies, ball bearing makers NSK Ltd and NTN Corp, announced on Tuesday they were among those being fined.
The others were components suppliers Hitachi Ltd, Denso Corp, Aisan Industry Co, Mitsubishi Electric Corp, Mitsuba Corp, Yazaki Corp and Furukawa Corp and bearings makers Nachi-Fujikoshi Corp and JTEKT Corp.
The commission said that the components makers were fined a total of 832 million yuan (US$136 million) and the bearings suppliers 403 million yuan, but it gave no breakdown by company.
The EU Chamber of Commerce in China, in a statement last week, said competition law should not be used to achieve other goals such as forcing price reductions.
The group said that it received reports regulators pressure companies to accept penalties without a full hearing and avoid involving their governments.
A Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman denied this week that foreign companies were treated unfairly.
On Monday, the government said Mercedes Benz was guilty of “vertical price-fixing.” It said the unit of Germany’s Daimler AG used its control over supplies of replacement parts to charge excessive prices.
Officials have said Volkswagen AG’s Audi luxury unit and Fiat Chrysler Automobile NV’s Chrysler would also face unspecified punishment for violating the law. Toyota Motor Co has said its Lexus unit is under scrutiny.
TECH FIRMS PROBED
Regulators also have announced investigations of Qualcomm Inc and Microsoft Corp.
Last year, Chinese regulators fined five foreign dairies and one from Hong Kong a total of US$108 million on charges they violated the anti-monopoly law by setting minimum prices for their distributors.
Intel Corp has landed Microsoft Corp as a customer for its made-to-order chip business, marking a key win for an ambitious turnaround effort under chief executive officer Pat Gelsinger. Microsoft plans to use Intel’s 18A manufacturing technology to make a forthcoming chip that the software maker designed in-house, the two companies said at an event on Wednesday. They did not identify the product, but Microsoft recently announced plans for two homegrown chips — a computer processor and an artificial intelligence (AI) accelerator. Intel has been seeking to prove it can compete in the foundry market, where companies produce custom chips for clients. It
AI EFFECT: Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang moved up to 21st on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index on Thursday after his wealth skyrocketed by US$9.6 billion to US$69.2 billion The artificial intelligence (AI) mania sparked by Nvidia Corp’s sterling results has given a lift to Asia’s major chipmakers, but it has not closed the valuation gap with their US peers. A Bloomberg gauge tracking Asia’s top semiconductor firms, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) and Samsung Electronics Co, widened its under-performance against the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index this week. While the Asian index trades at 17 times forward earnings, the US measure is at 27 times, pushing the gap close to a record after Nvidia’s blowout revenue outlook reinforced investor conviction in the boom in generative AI use. Nvidia’s 8 percent
The arrival of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) in Japan’s Kumamoto Prefecture marks the regaining of the area’s pivotal position established during the Meiji Restoration in the 19th century, a local business leader said in an interview with CNA. The first fab of Japan Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Inc (JASM), TSMC’s majority-owned manufacturing subsidiary in Kumamoto, is set to open today. After the 1868 Meiji Restoration, Kumamoto was of key importance as it was home to a major garrison national defense. However, that position was ceded to Fukuoka after World War II as Japan turned to foreign trade for post-war economic development,
The sound of gentle tapping filled a jewelry workshop in southern China as a craftsman hammered pine-leaf patterns onto a soft slab of gold in the style of old ink paintings. Elaborate traditional pieces created by master goldsmiths have always been popular in China, bought as gifts for special occasions such as the Lunar New Year or simply as investments. But jewelers are now having to consider a new and fast-growing consumer base — younger people, who are increasingly keen to buy gold, seeing it as a safe investment in uncertain economic times. Key to gold’s popularity is China’s lackluster post-COVID-19 recovery, which