SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's economic regulator is paying close attention to a recent surge in the price of mobile phone storage chips and could look into possible price fixing by companies, state newspaper China Daily reported on Wednesday.
The newspaper, citing an official with the National Development and Reform Commission's Pricing Supervision Department, said the NDRC was alerted to the situation after a sharp rise in the price of chips over the last 18 months.
"We have noticed the price surge and will pay more attention to future problems that may be caused by 'price fixing' in the sector," the official Xu Xinyu was quoted as saying.
The newspaper added that the official referred to possible coordinated action taken by a number of firms to gain maximum profits by pushing the price of the product as high as possible.
A "super-cycle" of tight supply and soaring demand for memory chips, which power servers and smartphones, has been driving up prices and profits at chipmakers such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and SK Hynix Inc.
The NDRC has spoken to Samsung, the China Daily reported, citing Wang Yanhui, the secretary-general of the Mobile China Alliance, who the paper said had knowledge of the matter.
Mobile China Alliance is an industry association that has more than 30 mobile phone companies as members.
Wang said it was too early to predict what further measures could be taken but that the government could look at penalties issued by other countries if Samsung was found to be engaging in such any price fixing.
Samsung did not have an immediate comment on the report when contacted by Reuters.
(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Additional Reporting by Joyce Lee in SEOUL; Editing by Himani Sarkar)