Memory Chipmakers Settle Antitrust Suit

Three companies will pay $160 million to smaller DRAM producers.
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Three of the world's largest memory chipmakers have agreed to pay $160 million to settle a private lawsuit alleging that they conspired to fix prices for the DRAM chips used in personal computers.

The private antitrust suit in a San Francisco federal court is related to, but separate from, an ongoing criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, which has resulted in guilty pleas from

Samsung

,

Hynix Semiconductor

and

Infineon Technologies

(IFX)

.

According to a Bloomberg news report, the trio of chipmakers will pay $160 million to settle antitrust suits brought by independent technology companies including consulting companies and computer makers that used the memory chips. Under the terms of the settlement, Samsung will reportedly pay $67 million, Hynix will pay $73 million and Infineon will pay $20 million.

In March,

three senior Samsung executives pleaded guilty to price fixing and agreed to serve jail sentences ranging from seven months to eight months. Samsung had already agreed to pay a $300 million fine as a result of the investigation.

Hynix and Infineon have also paid hefty fines and had executives serve jail time.

According to the DOJ probe, executives at the chipmakers colluded to set DRAM prices between 1999 and 2002, affecting companies like

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

,

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get Report

and

Apple Computer

(AAPL) - Get Report

.

Representatives at Infineon did not return calls for comment. Hynix officials could not be reached for comment, and Samsung representatives declined to comment.

Shares of

Rambus

(RMBS) - Get Report

, which has a separate lawsuit pending against the chipmakers involving the price-fixing allegations, rose 5 cents to $35.65 in extended trading.