LG to pay $380 million to settle display panel price-fixing case

SAN FRANCISCO Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:18am IST

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - South Korea's LG Electronics Inc (066570.KS) has agreed to pay $380 million to resolve a civil lawsuit over price fixing in the liquid crystal display market, the largest amount paid among the ten companies who similarly settled the litigation, a court filing showed on Thursday.

A class action lawsuit alleged a detailed conspiracy from the late 1990s through 2006 to fix LCD prices, resulting in higher costs for buyers of televisions, laptops and other electronics. Several companies also pleaded guilty to separate criminal charges and paid fines.

An attorney for the plaintiffs on Wednesday disclosed a settlement involving LG, AU Optronics Corp (2409.TW) and Toshiba Corp. According to Thursday's court filing, AU Optronics will pay $170 million, while Toshiba will pay $21 million.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco will have to approve the deal.

AUO representative Freda Lee said the settlement should not cause material impact to the company's finance or business in the current or future reporting periods.

Toshiba spokeswoman Deborah Chalmers said the company "denies any wrongdoing on its part in the LCD business, and it entered into the settlement to avoid further expense and the distraction of protracted litigation."

An LG representative could not be reached.

A deal involving the other seven companies, including Samsung, Sharp and Hitachi, had previously been approved. If the latest deal becomes final, the total recovery for class members will top $1 billion, according to the court filing.

The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is In Re: TFT-LCD (Flat Panel) Antitrust Litigation, 07-md-1827.

(Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)