Shares in Samsung Electronics Co slumped more than 6 per cent on Wednesday, wiping $10 billion off the electronics giant's market value, on a report that Apple placed huge chip orders with troubled Japanese chip rival Elpida.
Taiwan's DigiTimes, an online trade news site, reported that Apple recently placed large mobile dynamic random access memory (DRAM) orders with Elpida's 12-inch plant in Hiroshima, Japan, securing around half the facilities total chip production. It cited unnamed industry sources in its report, which hit shares of major chip suppliers to Apple.
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SK hynix shares closed almost 9 per cent lower at a 20-week low - the biggest one-day drop in nine months. Samsung, the world's biggest DRAM maker, tumbled 6.2 per cent to a 9-week low of 1.23 million won ($1,100) - the stock's biggest daily fall in nearly four years.
"It looks like Apple doesn't want to see Samsung and hynix dominate the chip market. Apple wants to maintain its bargaining power by keeping Elpida running," said Choi Do-yeon, an analyst at LIG Investment & Securities.
US-based Micron Technology Corp is in talks to acquire Elpida's business as the Japanese firm tries to restructure after tough market conditions and global competition drove it into bankruptcy protection.
"A merged Micron-Elpida could pose a significant threat to South Korean memory chipmakers, and Elpida's huge order from Apple was the spark that triggered these worries," said Lim Dol-yi, an analyst at Solomon Investment & Securities.
Samsung declined to comment, as did the Japanese court-appointed trustee handling Elpida's rehabilitation.