The world’s top three DRAM manufacturers – Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix and Micron Technology – are all facing fines from Chinese antitrust regulators. The trio have allegedly conspired to fix prices of DRAM, and could be fined up to $8 billion (RM32 billion).
Regulators had visited Micron in May 2018, looking into the sudden surge in DRAM pricing. The result of that visit lead to further investigations into both Samsung and SK Hynix. Collectively, the three companies hold some 90% of the market share.
If found to be guilty of breaching antitrust laws, the companies face fines between $800 million and $8 billion. Although this number is calculated based on the price of DRAM sales in China between 2016 and 2017. There may also be a chance that it is higher if regulators attempt to make an example of them.
China is not the first country to investigate DRAM companies for price fixing. The US fined the three vendors, along with Infineon and Elpida Memory for the same conspiracy in 2002. Although since then Infineon and Elpida have ceased to exist as independent entities.
That said, China is not happy to simply rely on regulations to control the DRAM market. Plans have been made to support homegrown businesses, allowing new Chinese companies to supply the country’s needs.