Japanese High-Tech Companies to Build New LCD Plant

Hitachi, Matsushita and Toshiba will build a plant that will produce panels for 15 million TV sets per year.

Hitachi, Matsushita and Toshiba , through their joint venture IPS Alpah Technology, on Feb. 15 announced joint plans to spend 300 billion yen (US$2.78 billion) on a new liquid crystal display (LCD) plant in western Japan. The companies are enjoying brisk sales of flat televisions both in their domestic market and overseas, but price competition is intense, forcing them to drive down costs with more efficient production techniques.

The growing popularity of digital broadcasting will drive strong demand for LCD televisions, particularly in Japan, the U.S. and Europe, the companies predicted. "Further expansion is expected also in emerging markets such as the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and Vietnam, where digital broadcasting infrastructure is going to be established," the statement said.

The planned factory, which will be built in Himeji in Hyogo Prefecture, will be able to produce LCD panels for about 15 million televisions per year.

The joint venture will also consider the possible development of organic electro luminescence displays (OELD). Such screens, which sandwich a very thin layer of organic material between two plates, use less power and offer brighter images and wider viewing angles than liquid crystal display panels. Sony was the first company to launch an organic display TV last October.

IPS Alpha Technology, created in 2005, is owned 50% by Hitachi Displays Ltd., 30% by Panasonic-maker Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd and 15% by Toshiba Corp. In December Matsushita and fellow high-tech company Canon Inc. said they would each take 24.9% stakes in Hitachi Displays Ltd.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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