EU Commission investigates on chip vendors cartel
The Commission said it had reason to believe that the companies concerned may have violated EC Treaty rules prohibiting practices such as price fixing, customer allocation and the exchange of commercially sensitive information. The Commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the national competition authorities.
At least four smart card chip suppliers confirmed they have been the target of the Commission inspection : STMicroelectronics, Infineon Technologies, NXP, and Renesas Technology. All of them received surprise visits from the investigators and say they are cooperating with the investigation. According to press statements, Texas Instruments was not part of the target for surprise inspections, and Samsung did not comment whether they had been inspected or not.
Surprise inspections are a preliminary step in investigations into suspected cartels. The Commission reaffirms the rights of defense, and insists such inspections do not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behavior; nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself. The European Commission did not confirm a definite timescale for these investigations.