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Japan watchdog slaps Sharp with fine on LCD cartel

Japan's Fair Trade Commission said it has fined Sharp Corp ¥261 million ($3 million) and issued a cease-and-desist order to Sharp and a Hitachi Ltd unit for price fixing on LCD panels used in Nintendo Co Ltd's DS game machines.

The FTC's move comes on the heels of a much bigger LCD cartel case in the United States, where Sharp, along with LG Display Co Ltd and Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd, agreed to plead guilty and pay a total $585 million in fines.

The Japanese monopoly watchdog said Sharp and Hitachi Displays, 50.2% owned by Hitachi Ltd, conspired to control selling prices of their LCD panels to Nintendo.

Nintendo has sold more than 84 million units of the DS, far surpassing sales of rival Sony Corp's PlayStation Portable.

Sharp, the world's third-largest LCD TV maker, said it believes it had not engaged in any activities that violate the antimonopoly law, and that it may request a hearing.

A Hitachi Displays spokesman said the company will think about what step to take next after fully studying the FTC order.

Prior to the announcement, Sharp shares closed up 2.3% at ¥586, outperforming the Tokyo stock market's electrical machinery index, which fell 0.3%. (Reuters)