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Fine may force LG Display into loss in 4th quarter

LG Display may record a loss in its latest fourth-quarter earnings as it is likely to include a large fine imposed by the European Commission for fixing liquid crystal display prices in its report, industry insiders said Tuesday.

The world’s second-largest maker of liquid crystal display panels must pay 215 million euros ($285 million) for being part of a cartel with five other firms between 2001 and 2006, according to the EU Commission.

Samsung Electronics, the world’s biggest LCD manufacturer, was also part of the cartel, but managed to avoid fines by providing information to the commission about the cartel.

LCD panels are a central component of the thin, flat monitors used in televisions, computer monitors and laptops.

“We will decide by February whether to appeal against the fine,” said a LG Display official.

Even if the company decides to appeal, LG Display will still be mandated by law to pay the fine before doing so, which is mainly why market estimates are currently negative.

The company’s fourth-quarter earnings will be announced later on Friday.

Earlier this month, the company’s chief executive Kwon Young-soo downplayed the prospect of having recorded a loss in the fourth quarter of last year, stating “it will not end up in an ugly situation.”

However, market analysts have aired concerns, with some estimating LG Display may record a loss of up to 300 billion won in the last quarter.

The company’s quarterly earnings have been in the black for six consecutive quarters, which is the longest profit-earning period since the company went public in 2004.

Other than local firms, Taiwan’s Chi Mei ― which merged with Innolux Display Corp. in March ― was slapped with the heftiest penalty of 300 million euros, and another Taiwanese firm, AU Optronics Corp., was fined 116.8 million euros.

Two other Taiwanese companies were also penalized, with Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd. fined 9 million euros and HannStar Display Corp. 8.1 million euros.

By Cho Ji-hyun (sharon@heraldcorp.com)
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